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Resource Documents: Noise (532 items)


Also see NWW press release on noise

Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.

Date added:  March 28, 2015
Massachusetts, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Infrasound Measurements of Falmouth Wind Turbines

Author:  Bahtiarian, Michael; and Beaudry, Allan

Noise Control Engineering, LLC (NCE) was retained by Senie & Associates P.C. to evaluate the acoustic impact at the home of Neil and Betsy Andersen at 211 Blacksmith Shop Road, East Falmouth, Massachusetts. The goal of the evaluation was to determine if the three nearby wind turbines were detectable within the interior of the home. These wind turbines are all Vestas, model V82 at 1.65 megawatts. Two wind turbines are owned by the Town of Falmouth; known as “Wind #1” and “Wind #2”. The third turbine is privately owned by Notus Clean Energy and referred to as the “Notus” turbine. Wind #1 is the closest to the Andersen home at a nominal distance of 1,385 feet. The other two wind turbines are more than double that distance.

Soon after the first wind turbine was operational, complaints were filed by the Andersens and other neighbors. In the following years, evaluations of audible sound were performed by various organizations including NCE, consultants for the Town, consultants for Notus, and even the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MADEP). Various results were reported with some evaluations showing compliance and some showing non-compliance.

The study reported herein differed in a number of ways from previous evaluations performed by NCE and others. The major difference is that the primary measurements reported here is infrasound. Briefly, infrasound is sound pressure levels with frequency below 20 hertz which is generally considered an inaudible frequency range. Another difference is that measurements were taken both inside and outside the home. All previous tests were performed at exterior locations due to the fact that State regulations and local ordinance were only applicable at outdoor locations.

The methods used herein allowed for the collection of infrasonic sound pressure levels within the inside of the Andersen residence. Inspection of this data shows that there is a readily identifiable acoustic signature that is attributable to the Wind #1 Turbine, and to slightly lessor extent the Wind #2 turbine both inside and outside the Andersen home. These results are similar to results from other international researchers with references given in the report.

Based on our experience, NCE can unequivocally state that the infrasonic signature captured inside the Andersen residence with the wind turbines operational is 100% attributable to one or both of the Town’s Wind Turbines. To put the conclusions more commonly, this study finds that the wind turbine(s) produce acoustic emissions which are “acoustically trespassing” into the Andersen home.

February 27, 2015
Noise Control Engineering, Billerica, Mass.

Download original document: “Infrasound Measurements of Falmouth Wind Turbines”

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Date added:  March 21, 2015
Belgium, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Annoyance, detection and recognition of wind turbine noise

Author:  Van Renterghem, Timothy; Bockstael, Annelies; De Weirt, Valentine; and Botteldooren, Dick

Annoyance, recognition and detection of noise from a single wind turbine were studied by means of a two-stage listening experiment with 50 participants with normal hearing abilities. In-situ recordings made at close distance from a 1.8-MW wind turbine operating at 22 rpm were mixed with road traffic noise, and processed to simulate indoor sound pressure levels at LAeq 40 dBA. In a first part, where people were unaware of the true purpose of the experiment, samples were played during a quiet leisure activity. Under these conditions, pure wind turbine noise gave very similar annoyance ratings as unmixed highway noise at the same equivalent level, while annoyance by local road traffic noise was significantly higher. In a second experiment, listeners were asked to identify the sample containing wind turbine noise in a paired comparison test. The detection limit of wind turbine noise in presence of highway noise was estimated to be as low as a signal-to-noise ratio of −23 dBA. When mixed with local road traffic, such a detection limit could not be determined. These findings support that noticing the sound could be an important aspect of wind turbine noise annoyance at the low equivalent levels typically observed indoors in practice. Participants that easily recognized wind-turbine(–like) sounds could detect wind turbine noise better when submersed in road traffic noise. Recognition of wind turbine sounds is also linked to higher annoyance. Awareness of the source is therefore a relevant aspect of wind turbine noise perception which is consistent with previous research.

Timothy Van Renterghem, Annelies Bockstael, Valentine De Weirt, Dick Botteldooren
Department of Information Technology, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium

Science of the Total Environment 456–457 (2013) 333–345

Download original document: “Annoyance, detection and recognition of wind turbine noise”

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Date added:  February 26, 2015
Health, New Zealand, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Statement of Evidence on behalf of Glenmark Community Against Wind Turbines

Author:  Shepherd, Daniel

I have been invited by Glenmark Community Against Wind Turbines, Inc to provide an evaluation of the impact of turbine noise on health and well-being. …

Relatively, wind turbines are a new source of community noise, and as such their effects on public health are only beginning to emerge in the literature. The recognition of a new disease, disorder, or threat to health usually follows a set pathway. First, doctors and practitioners attempt to fit symptoms into pre-defined diagnostic categories or to classify the complaints as psychosomatic. Second, as evidence accumulates, case studies begin to appear in the literature, and exploratory research is undertaken to obtain better descriptions of the symptoms/complaints. Third, intensive research is undertaken examining the distribution and prevalence of those reporting symptoms, the factors correlating with the distribution and prevalence of those symptoms, and ultimately to cause-and-effect explanations of why those reporting symptoms may be doing so.

In my reading of the literature the health effects of wind turbines are only beginning to be elucidated, and [are] caught somewhere between the first and second stages described above (Paragraph 1.8). The important point to note is that case studies (e.g., Harry, 2007; Pierpont, 2009) and correlational studies (e.g., Pedersen et al., 2007; van den berg, 2008; Shepherd et al., 2011) have already emerged in relation to the health effects of wind turbine noise, and so the possibility of detrimental health effects due to wind turbine noise must be taken with utmost seriousness.

Noise is a recognised environmental pollutant that degrades sleep, quality of life and general function (WHO, 1999, 2009; 2011). On the basis of data currently available in peer-reviewed scientific publications, it can only be concluded that industrial-scale wind energy generation, involving the saturation of an optimum number of wind turbines in a fixed area, is not without health impact for those residing in its proximity. Based on my experience of wind turbine noise, and my reading of the data available in the scientific literature, I recommend that all turbines displaced at least two kilometres (or more) from any dwelling be consented. …

30 April 2012

Download original document: “Statement of Evidence in Chief of Daniel Shepherd on behalf of Glenmark Community Against Wind Turbine”s

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Date added:  February 21, 2015
Australia, Health, Noise, WisconsinPrint storyE-mail story

E-mail messages from acoustic consultants and researchers to Steven Cooper and colleagues

Author:  James, Richard; Swinbanks, Malcolm; and Rand, Robert

These e-mails were exchanged among acoustic consultants and researchers in the USA, New Zealand, and Australia regarding claims by wind developer Pacific Hydro and others that acousticians/noise engineers are not qualified to determine cause and effect of human perceptions and therefore physiological and psychological responses to sound energy.

The comments by Pacific Hydro trying to limit the expertise of acousticians and noise engineers followed the public release of a review of, and strong endorsement of, Steven Cooper’s acoustic survey at Cape Bridgewater by senior US Noise Engineers Dr Paul Schomer and Mr George Hessler.

Mr Cooper’s work at Cape Bridgewater followed on from an acoustic survey conducted by Dr Paul Schomer, George and David Hessler, Bruce Walker, and Rob Rand at the Shirley Wind Farm, which was released in December 2012. Steven Cooper’s work achieved a number of the goals which Schomer, the Hesslers, Walker, and Rand had established were required after their Shirley acoustic survey, namely:

  1. Data collection during “on off” turbine operation, so that comparative acoustic data could be collected to accurately determine the wind turbine generated component. Duke Energy had refused to comply with their request to do so in the Shirley acoustic survey.
  2. Conduct attended measurement of acoustic exposures of residents when they could not see or hear the turbines ie establish whether some people could accurately determine wind turbine operation in these circumstances (as some residents have repeatedly stated).
  3. Determine acoustic thresholds for human perception above which residents could perceive turbine operation, and below which they could not.

Mr Cooper’s acoustic survey work for Pacific Hydro at Cape Bridgewater achieved the above three tasks.

1. From Rick James, 17 Feb 2015


In spite of what Pac Hydro may say, acousticians routinely use measurements and their observations about how people respond to different sounds to determine cause and effect. Whether it is a simple situation of whether a compressor is causing a noise disturbance or the effects of wind turbines on people that is our job. Do not let them try to claim that this is a medical decision. That is the MOE’s strategy in Ontario, but we do not need to let it be so in Australia. You are not establishing the biological processes by which cause the effects, you are only associating the presence of certain sounds to people’s responses.

Use my paper “Warning signs that went unheard…” to show that acousticians, including Leventhall and Broner, determined that rumbling, generally inaudible, HVAC sounds were the cause of Sick Building Syndrome. If a medical doctor was required to assess cause and effect for sick building syndrome the problems would still exist. There is no need to know the biological process to assign cause and effect. That hurdle would rule out most medicines which work for unknown reasons.

The pro-wind associations and other partisans need to use the medical hurdle to try to stop us from doing our job. Do not let them deny you the professional authority that is part of being an acoustician.

Rick James, INCE, 
E-Coustic Solutions

“Calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience. Noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.” —former U.S. Surgeon General William Stewart, 1969

2. From Malcolm Swinbanks, 18 Feb 2015

Rick & Others,

I agree completely with what Rick is saying. It is not necessary to establish the precise mechanisms that cause adverse health effects from infrasound. It is sufficient to establish a rigorous correlation.

For thousands of years, since the days of the Greeks and Romans, the effects of sea-sickness were clearly acknowledged, but no-one had any knowledge of the structure and operation of the vestibular organs. Indeed one could ask Leventhall and Broner what is the precise mechanism by which low-frequency sound can cause nausea, dizziness, and headaches. I don’t mean simply because the basilar membrane is excited and the hair cells respond – what I mean is why does this make people feel ill, when a skilled opera bass singer can make people feel good?


3. From Rob Rand, 19 Feb 2015

Steve, Malcolm, Rick and All,

I agree completely with Rick and Malcolm. I spoke along these lines when questioned last week by the reporter at ABC Australia. As an acoustician working to protect public well-being, I don’t need the exhaustive medical research that would establish the mechanisms themselves. I said in fact it would be unethical of me as a member of INCE to wait the years required for such careful medical research work to be completed.

I have sufficient correlation already from the neighbors reports and affidavits and the measurements done thus far, to inform others for designing properly to be good acoustic neighbors.

 Yes do not let anyone especially those bent on promoting harm prevent you from doing your job as acoustician.

Best wishes,

Prepared by courtesy of Sarah Laurie, CEO, Waubra Foundation, 21st February 2015 — reproduced with permission of the authors.

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