Resource Documents: Health (438 items)
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.
Author: Laurie, Sarah
Requested by Stockyard Hill Landscape Guardians –
I have used my previous clinical experience as a rural General Practitioner to interview individuals reporting adverse health effects from a range of industrial noise sources, and then used the information obtained together with my clinical insights and experience, to collaborate with trained health and acoustics professionals in Australia and internationally to plan and implement new multidisciplinary research methodologies and develop new acoustic instrumentation, to facilitate accurate measurement and recording of acoustic exposures, and concurrent physiological data (sleep and heart rate), where people are reporting adverse impacts with exposure to industrial noise sources.
The aim of this work is to identify the precise acoustic triggers for the reported symptoms, including particularly the triggering of the acoustic startle reflex that underpins much of the reported illness, especially when the acoustic startle reflex is repeatedly triggered during sleep, resulting in chronic sleep deprivation which worsens with progressive low frequency noise sensitization.
The acoustic exposures have been in residential as well as occupational settings, at open cut and underground coal mines, coal, gas and wind power generators, and other noise sources such as CSG field compressors and urban data storage centres.
International collaboration has occurred with experts such as Dr Paul Schomer, immediate past Director of Acoustical Standards in the USA. At Dr Schomer’s invitation, I was asked to join the international working group on Wind Turbine Noise in May 2015 in Pittsburgh, USA, and to present at the American Society of Acoustics conference [http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/acoustical-society-america-conference-2015-waubra-foundationpresentation- notes/]. I work closely with independent Acousticians, Psychoacousticians and others both in Australia and internationally who are leading the world in investigation of industrial noise inside impacted residents homes, together with the collection of concurrent physiological data.
I have collaborated with others in the development of affordable dual channel broad spectrum acoustic soundscape recording units, in order to capture scientifically important data which is being missed if averaging and sampling techniques are used, or if infrasound and low frequency noise inside and outside homes is excluded from measurement and analysis as is the case with many existing sound level meters and regulatory requirements and standards. …
I note that experienced Danish Professor of Acoustics Henrik Møller and his colleague Christian Pedersen coauthored a peer reviewed paper published in May 2011 which demonstrated (using wind industry data) that as power generation capacity increased (which can be achieved via increased tower height and blade length), so too did the proportion of low frequency noise emitted also increase. They noted that therefore it was predictable that “annoyance” for the neighbours would also increase. [https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/low-frequency-noise-from-large-wind-turbines-2/]
This increase in “annoyance” including sleep disturbance is precisely what has happened to rural residents in Victoria living near the Macarthur Wind Power Development, documented in a preliminary Community Noise Impact Survey at Macarthur Wind Power Development in 2013 by Mrs Anne Schafer, and also in numerous public submissions and oral Testimony to Federal Senate Inquiries and legal proceedings. …
The acoustic startle reflex is epitomized by the description given by residents living near various sources of industrial noise, including particularly wind turbines, of “waking up at night suddenly in an anxious frightened panicked state”. These episodes correlate directly with wind direction and weather conditions, with the worst experiences being when they are downwind, with either heavy cloud cover or temperature inversion conditions.
The acoustic startle reflex is a simple neural reflex, which is extremely rapid. The neural pathway does not travel to the cortex or thinking part of the brain, but rather goes from the peripheral sensory receptors directly to the primitive part of the brain in the brainstem, and then straight to the heart where one of the effects of the sympathetic nervous system activation is to increase heart rate. In layman’s terms, this is known as the “fight flight” response, and is the core of the physiological stress response.
By its very nature (simple and very rapid neural reflex), the acoustic startle reflex cannot be induced by “suggestion” so the assertion by wind industry advocates and some acousticians that a “nocebo” effect is responsible for the annoyance/physiological stress reactions or sleep disturbance episodes is not supported by the scientific evidence in animal studies.
Nor is the “nocebo effect” excuse supported by detailed clinical history taking directly from noise affected people by experienced medical practitioners. When such medical histories are gathered, clinical diagnoses of Environmental Sleep Disorder and other conditions including Wind Turbine Syndrome become clear, as do the serious adverse health consequences of the diagnosis of Environmental Sleep Disorder if the excessive noise exposure and sleep deprivation continue.
The effects of chronic sleep deprivation have been summarized in the 2009 World Health Organisation’s Night Noise Guidelines for Europe [https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/night-noise-guidelines-for-europe/], and include serious physical and mental health consequences. …
Two important Victorian wind turbine noise investigations since 2010 are the acoustic and health study conducted by Dr Bob Thorne at the Waubra and Cape Bridgewater Wind Power Developments [http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/thorne-r-victorian-wind-farm-review-updated-june-2014/], and the Pacific Hydro initiated and partly funded Cape Bridgewater Acoustic Investigation by Steven Cooper [https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/results-of-an-acoustic-testing-program-cape-bridgewater-wind-farm/]. The existence of repeated sleep disturbance was confirmed in both.
Both these wind power developments have been deemed to be compliant with their permit conditions and the NZ Standard. If they are in fact compliant, then it is clear that the NZ standard is allowing people to become chronically sleep deprived, and progressively sensitized to low frequency noise, both of which have serious adverse health sequelae for both physical and mental health.
Those who find the noise becomes unbearable, (as stated in the Victorian Health Department Technical report quoted from earlier), can become a serious suicide risk. The Waubra Foundation Administrator and Directors have direct experience and knowledge of the desperation of low frequency noise sensitized people, and I have personally prevented a number of suicides by responding rapidly, and locating local health providers in a timely fashion. My own experiences are supported by the data contained in Dr Bob Thorne’s study report referred to above, and by independent psychological assessment in some instances – these people are very unwell, physically and often mentally, and exhausted. Their psychological distress is further compounded by the lack of any action to alleviate their situation by responsible authorities at every level of government, and sometimes ignorance of their treating health professionals. …
30th January, 2017
Download original document: “Expert Witness Statement of Sarah Laurie, CEO, Waubra Foundation”
Author: Rapley, Bruce; Bakker, Huub; Alves-Pereira, Mariana; and Summers, Rachel
Abstract – This Case Report describes an episode experienced by two noise-sensitised individuals during a field trip. Exposed to residential infrasound and low frequency noise due to coal mining activities, the subjects reacted suddenly, strongly and unexpectedly to pressure pulses generated by a wind farm located at a different town, approximately 160km by road from their residence. Simultaneous physiological data obtained in one subject and subjective sensations occurring during the episode are reported. Acoustical evaluations of the location of the episode are also reported. The possibility of a nocebo effect as an etiological factor for their bodily reactions is cogently eliminated.
Bruce Rapley, Atkinson & Rapley Consulting, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Huub Bakker, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University, Palmerston North, New
Mariana Alves-Pereira, School of Economic Sciences and Organizations, Lusófona University, Lisbon, Portugal
Rachel Summers, School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Presented at the 12th ICBEN Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem, 18–22 June 2017, Zurich
Download original document: “Case Report: Cross-Sensitisation to Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise”
Author: Smith, Michael; Ögren, Mikael; Thorsson, Pontus; Hussain-Alkhateeb, Laith; Pedersen, Eja; Forssén, Jens; Ageborg Morsing, Julia; and Persson Waye, Kerstin
Onshore wind turbines are becoming increasingly widespread globally, with the associated net effect that a greater number of people will be exposed to wind turbine noise (WTN). Sleep disturbance by WTN has been suggested to be of particular importance with regards to a potential impact on human health. Within the Wind Turbine Noise Effects on Sleep (WiTNES) project, we have experimentally investigated the physiological effects of night time WTN on sleep using polysomnography and self-reporting protocols. Fifty participants spent three nights in the sound exposure laboratory. To examine whether habituation or sensitisation occurs among populations with long-term WTN exposure, approximately half of the participants lived within 1km of at least one turbine. The remaining participants were not exposed to WTN at home. The first night served for habituation and one WTN-free night served to measure baseline sleep. Wind turbine noise (LAEq,indoor,night=31.9 dB) was introduced in one night. This exposure night included variations in filtering, corresponding to a window being fully closed or slightly open, and variations in amplitude modulation
Michael Smith, Mikael Ögren, Laith Hussain-Alkhateeb, Julia Ageborg Morsing, Kerstin Persson Waye
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Institute of Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Pontus Thorsson, Jens Forssén
Division of Applied Acoustics, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
Department of Architecture and the Built Environment, Lund University, Sweden
Presented at the 12th ICBEN Congress on Noise as a Public Health Problem, 18–22 June, Zurich
Sleep is vital for adequate health and wellbeing, yet by its very definition is reversible. Such reversibility presents the opportunity for external factors, including noise, to disrupt sleep as the brain awakes the body following environmental intrusion. The link between traffic noise and sleep disruption is well established, yet the effects of noise from wind turbines is comparatively under-examined, although the body of research is growing. There is some evidence for an association between sleep disturbance and wind turbine noise (WTN) levels, but there has also been recent work finding no link between one-year WTN averages and sleep outcomes.
Response to a sound is not wholly dependent on the acoustical characteristics such as level, duration and frequency content. An individual’s tolerance and attitude to a certain sound can moderate their response, and persistent exposure may lead to an increase or a decrease in reaction. In the case of habituation, repeated exposure over time results in an individual reacting less strongly than previously to an exposure of the same amplitude. For example, long-term behavioural adaptation to noise occurs in fish following repeated motorboat noise exposure following an initial increase in hiding. It is unclear however whether behavioural changes such as these in humans may reflect true habituation, involving synaptic plasticity mechanisms such as long-term depression, or if these changes are instead indicative of coping strategies. In the opposite direction to habituation, sensitisation occurs when repeated exposure leads to a stronger response over time. For instance, in the famous example of a dripping tap, the sound may be innocuous at first but can become unbearable after persistent exposure.
Possible habituation or sensitisation to WTN represents a potential explanation for the disparity in findings from research into the effects of WTN on human response. This paper therefore describes a study performed to investigate the physiological impact on sleep from WTN exposure. The Wind Turbine Noise Effects on Sleep (WiTNES) project was performed with the aims of investigating the physiological or psychological impact of WTN on sleep, and whether repeated WTN exposure at home may lead to habituation or sensitisation. …
The results of the models for each outcome, which includes WTN exposure night alone as a predictor, are presented in Table 4. All response items excepting tenseness, perceived sleep depth and social orientation were significantly negatively affected following nights with WTN exposure. Furthermore, the exposed study group differed from the control group in the majority of the response items, rating their sleep as worse even in the absence of WTN exposure. There was a significant effect of sex for sleep depth and WTN causing difficulty falling back asleep, in both instances with men having worse sleep. Effects of noise sensitivity were seen for WTN causing tiredness and both mood items. Regular sleep difficulties was a significant predictor for around half of all outcomes, including difficulty sleeping, one of the three outcomes for which no effect of WTN exposure was seen. No significant effects of age were found for any of the outcomes, and no WTN exposure × group interactions were observed.
Almost all measures of self-reported sleep were negatively impacted following nights with wind turbine noise. The WTN nights lead to increased sleep disturbance, reduced sleep quality, increased tiredness, increased irritation, awakenings, increased difficulty to sleep, sleeping worse than usual, and decreased mood. Subjects dwelling close to wind turbines, and consequently potentially exposed to WTN at home, repeatedly scored their sleep and restoration lower than the reference group following the WTN nights. However, their baseline sleep and restoration scored after the quiet WTN-free night were also generally scored lower than by the reference group. Although efforts were made during recruitment to obtain as similar a study sample from both the exposed and reference groups, a larger proportion of participants in the exposed group reported excessive tiredness at least once a month (58% vs. 20%) or difficulties sleeping at home at least several times a month (61% vs. 41%). Nevertheless, the effect of WTN exposure on sleep remained even after correcting for regular sleep difficulties and tiredness. … Despite the limitations of questionnaires and the study design, the present paper provides evidence that a single night of wind turbine noise at indoor levels of LAEq,8h=31.9 dB negatively impacts self-reported sleep.
Download original document: “Wind Turbine Noise Effects on Sleep: The WiTNES study”
Preliminary evaluation of mental status and an investigation of occupational health knowledge demand in operating and maintenance personnel in wind power plants
Abstract [article in Chinese] —
Objective: To investigate the mental status, level of occupational health knowledge, health behaviors, and occupational health knowledge demand in operating and maintenance personnel in wind power plants, and to provide a basis for formulating protective measures of occupational health for operating and maintenance personnel in wind power plants. Methods: A cluster sampling was performed in regionally representative wind power plants in the wind power industry from May 2014 to June 2015, and the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90) and a self-made evaluation questionnaire were used to investigate the general status, mental health, and occupational health knowledge demand in 160 operating and maintenance workers. Results: Of all respondents, 26.9% had mental health issues. The awareness rate of infectious disease knowledge and preventive measures was 11.9%. Of all workers, 96.5% wanted to know the occupational hazard factors in the workplace, and 96.3% wanted to get the knowledge of the prevention of related diseases. Conclusion: Mental health issues in operating and maintenance personnel in wind power plants cannot be neglected and there is a high demand for occupational health services and related knowledge. Comprehensive intervention measures for health promotion in the workplace should be adopted to improve working environment, enhance individual mental health education, increase the level of occupational health management, and protect the health of workers.
Hu SQ, Zhang Q, Zhu XH, Sun K, Chen SZ, Liu AG, Luo GL, and Huang W
Occupational Disease Prevention and Control Center of Zhuzhou, China
Zhonghua Lao Dong Wei Sheng Zhi Ye Bing Za Zhi [Chinese journal of industrial hygiene and occupational diseases]. 2016 Oct 20;34(10):787-789.
Analysis of occupational health examination data of operation and maintenance personnel in wind farm
目的： 分析风电场维护人员在岗期间职业健康检查结果，为该行业相关职业健康检查项目的设置提供依据。 方法： 于2013年3至7月，采用整群抽样的方法，选取某公司风电事业部所属17家风力发电场的运行维护人员151人作为观察组，该公司风电事业部叶片生产作业人员336人作为对照组。通过现场流行病学调查法、职业健康检查法、症状自评量表（SCL-90）和北欧肌肉骨骼疾患调查问卷（NMQ）了解风电场运行维护人员主要健康问题。 结果： 风电场运行维护人员下背痛发生率为88.7%，SCL-90各因子得分均高于对照组（P<0.05）；风电场运行维护人员收缩压、血小板计数、血清丙氨酸转氨酶水平均低于对照组人员，第1秒用力呼气容积（FEV(1)）与用力肺活量（FVC）比值（FEV(1)/FVC%）、直接胆红素水平、双耳高频和双耳语频均高于对照组人员，差异均有统计学意义（P<0.05）。 结论： 风电场运行维护人员下背痛和心理健康问题较突出，其职业健康检查项目应结合肌肉骨骼疾患及心理问题设置。 [click here for computer translation]
Shen YS, Zhu XH, and Sun K
Zhonghua Lao Dong Wei Sheng Zhi Ye Bing Za Zhi [Chinese journal of industrial hygiene and occupational diseases]. 2017 Aug 20;35(8):627-629.