Resource Documents: Health (422 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.
Wind Turbine Noise and Human Health: A Four-Decade History of Evidence that Wind Turbines Pose Risks
Author: Punch, Jerry; and James, Richard
The primary aims of the linked article are to provide our reference sources for much of the information in that earlier series [background, evidence, and how the ear and brain process infrasound], as well as to update that information. We do so by addressing 12 specific position statements frequently made by the wind industry, its trade associations, and other surrogates. We address these position statements, many of which are revealed to be little more than unfounded talking points, by a comprehensive review of the literature, including that from industry proponents and from those who are independent of the industry.
This article is the culmination of about 15 years of our combined experience with wind turbine noise issues. We first submitted an article resembling the current one to an international journal, Noise & Health, where it received multiple reviews by a single reviewer. We addressed all but two of that reviewer’s criticisms, namely that the manuscript was too lengthy for publication in the journal and the reviewer’s insistence that we accept the notion that infrasound at levels produced by wind turbines cannot cause adverse health effects. Underlying that reviewer’s position was the belief that “What you can’t hear, you can’t feel.”
In fact, decades of research have shown that the dynamically amplitude-modulated short bursts of energy, or pressure pulsations, are a characteristic of all modern industrial wind turbine emissions. These pressure peaks can be perceived by humans at levels far below the commonly accepted thresholds of perception and can lead to adverse symptoms such as sleep disturbance, headaches, tinnitus, ear pain, vertigo, and nausea.
The editor of Noise & Health offered an additional review cycle by a second reviewer. We chose instead to withdraw the manuscript from consideration because we were unwilling to either shorten it considerably or to mischaracterize the literature on the subject at hand.
We are grateful to Hearing Health & Technology Matters for allowing us to share this information through its widely accessible website.
This paper has been reviewed both by the anonymous Noise & Health reviewer and by three other reviewers who have substantial professional experience in the area of wind turbine noise. We gratefully acknowledge the helpful contributions of Keith Johnson, Esq., Michael Nissenbaum, MD, and Daniel Shepherd, PhD.
Mr. Johnson provided a review from the perspective of an attorney who represents interveners in wind turbine siting cases. Dr. Nissenbaum provided a review from the perspective of a medical professional and expert in how ionizing and non-ionizing radiation affects humans. Dr. Shepherd provided a review from the perspective of a psychoacoustician with experience in how wind turbine sound affects people. Each of these reviewers’ comments on earlier versions of our manuscript led to the final document. The opinions or assertions contained herein, however, are the personal views of the authors and are not to be construed as reflecting the views of Michigan State University or Central Michigan University.
The article’s unusual length stems not only from the number of topics covered, but also from our desire to quote literally and liberally from researchers and others on matters related to some of the key points in support of the link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects. Given the length, interested readers will likely require multiple sessions to read the article in its entirety.
Even though wind turbine noise does not normally cause hearing loss, we believe that audiologists, particularly those interested in community noise, should embrace the notion that all forms of noise, if sufficiently intense and prolonged, can be detrimental to public health. Audiologists should also be sensitive to the non-auditory aspects of acoustic energy, including dynamically modulated infrasound and low-frequency sound.
It is worth noting that two of the seven co-authors of the original white-paper report of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), which promoted the idea that wind turbines were harmless, were audiologists. We believe that the basic conclusions of that paper, which was not peer reviewed and written by a panel hand-picked by wind industry trade associations, unjustifiably favored the wind industry. It is particularly noteworthy that those major wind industry associations have acknowledged the audiology profession as having a credible say on the issue of wind turbine noise.
Interestingly, now that the tide is turning against the wind industry in many ways and in many places, its advocates are trying to discredit the views of audiologists, physicians, acousticians, and others who speak out in opposition of wind-energy development in populated areas. Concerned audiologists, especially those with expertise in cochlear and vestibular responses to noise and vibration, need to be heard on this issue.
Finally, let it not be said that either of us believes in making any less than the best possible effort to develop clean and efficient sources of energy. Rather, we hope that our article will be instrumental in promoting public health through a better understanding of the issues underlying the potentially harmful effects of audible and inaudible noise from industrial wind turbines when the turbines are sited too close to where people live and work.
Jerry Punch, Professor Emeritus, Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Michigan State
University, East Lansing
Richard James, E-Coustic Solutions; and Adjunct Professor, Department of Communication Disorders,
Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant
Many expert-review panels and some individual authors, in the U.S. and internationally, have taken the position that there is little literature to support concerns about adverse health effects (AHEs) from noise emitted by industrial wind turbines (IWTs). In this review, we systematically examine the literature that bears on some of the particular claims that are commonly made in support of the view that a causal link is non-existent. Investigation of the veracity of those claims requires that multiple topics be addressed, and the following specific topics were targeted for this review: (1) emissions of infrasound and low-frequency noise (ILFN) by IWTs, (2) the perception of ILFN by humans, (3) the evidentiary bases for establishing a causative link between IWTs and AHEs, as well as the physiological bases for such a link, (4) recommended setback distances and permissible noise levels, (5) the relationship between annoyance and health, (6) alternative causes of the reported health problems, (7) recommended methods for measuring infrasound, (8) foundations for establishing a medical diagnosis of AHEs due to IWTs, (9) research designs useful in establishing causation, (10) the role of psychological expectations as an explanation for the reported adverse effects, (11) the prevalence of AHEs in individuals exposed to IWTs, and (12) the scope and quality of literature addressing the link between IWT noise and AHEs. The reviewed evidence overwhelmingly supports the notion that acoustic emissions from IWTs is a leading cause of AHEs in a substantial segment of the population.
Author: Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy
The following one page statement, and the twelve case crossover testimonies attached, were submitted to the Brown County (Wisconsin) Board of Health on September 13, 2016, by Barbara Vanden Boogart, Vice President of BCCRWE (Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy).
In late July 2016, all of the Shirley Wind turbines were shut down for several consecutive days and nights – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and part of Thursday, July 25-28. Not only were the wind turbines not operating during this timeframe, it also appears that all electric power to the wind turbines was also shut down for some or all of this timeframe, as evidenced by the fact that the red warning lights on top of the wind turbines were not illuminated during one or more of these nights. Also it was observed that work was being performed on the Shirley Wind substation during this timeframe.
After the wind turbines resumed operation during the day of Thursday, July 28, 2016, a number of Shirley Wind residents described what they experienced during this shutdown period when they were not exposed to any wind turbine emissions as compared to what they experience when the Shirley Wind turbines are operating and they are exposed to the wind turbine emissions. They then had their statements notarized.
These case crossover testimonies of several Shirley Wind turbine residents are attached and are being submitted with permission of the authors.
BCCRWE requests that members of the Brown County Board of Health, Human Services Committee, and Board of Supervisors consider the gravity of this evidence and testimony that appears supportive of not only a relationship between wind turbine emissions and adverse health effects to Shirley Wind residents but also confirms that the Brown County Board of Health’s “human health hazard” declaration is appropriate and that remedial action is needed to protect these adversely affected Brown County residents. Prior Shirley Wind resident testimony and acoustical experts’ ILFN test measurements at Shirley Wind, together with the vast body of professional documents that have been submitted, further support the relationship between Shirley Wind turbines and the adverse health effects reported by Shirley Wind residents.
Author: Jalali, Leila; Bigelow, Philip; et al.
‘Sleep, a natural behavioral state and a vital part of every individual’s life, involves distinct characteristics and many vital physiological changes in the body’s organs that are fundamental for physical and mental health. The physiological processes involve protein biosynthesis, excretion of specific hormones, and memory consolidation, all of which prepare the individual for the next wake period. Fragmented and insufficient sleep can adversely affect general health impacting daytime alertness and performance, quality of life, and health, and potentially lead to serious long-term health effects.
‘Sleep disturbance is considered the most serious nonauditory effect of environmental noise exposure. Harnessing wind energy has resulted in a new source of environmental noise, and wind is one of the fastest growing forms of electricity production worldwide. Canada’s current installed capacity is over 10,000 MW, with an anticipated minimum of 55,000 MW by 2025. This growth in wind energy development is not without controversy, as health effects such as noise annoyance and sleep disturbance have been reported by residents living close to wind developments. Such reports are increasing in Canada and worldwide, despite the adoption of setbacks and other measures that have been effective for other sources of noise pollution. …’
Significant findings reported:
‘[R]eported quality of sleep significantly declined after exposure (P = 0.008). Participants also reported higher levels of stress before bedtime (P = 0.039) and in the morning (P = 0.064), and also reported feeling more sleepy (P = 0.013) in the morning and throughout the day (P = 0.014) after exposure. …
‘Noise difference [between preoperation and operation of turbines] correlated with the difference in the number of awakenings (r = 0.605, P = 0.001), SSC [sleep stage changes to a lighter stage] difference (r = 0.600, P = 0.001), arousal difference (r = 0.551, P = 0.004), and percentage of S2 [stage 2 sleep] difference (r = −0.499, P = 0.009).’
Leila Jalali, Philip Bigelow, Mahmood Gohari, Diane Williams, and Steve McColl, School of Public Health and Health Systems, and Mohammad-Reza Nezhad-Ahmadi, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Noise & Health 2016;18:194-205
Prevalence and its risk factors for low back pain among operation and maintenance personnel in wind farms
Author: Jia, Ning; et al.
Background. With the increasingly severe energy shortage and climate change problems, developing wind power has become a key energy development strategy and an inevitable choice to protect the ecological environment worldwide. The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of low back pain (LBP) and analyze its risk factors among operation and maintenance personnel in wind farms (OMPWF).
Methods. A cross-sectional survey of 151 OMPWF was performed, and a comprehensive questionnaire, which was modified and combined from Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaires (NMQ), Washington State Ergonomics Tool (WSET) and Syndrome Checklist-90 (SCL-90) was used to assess the prevalence and risk factors of LBP among OMPWF.
Results. The prevalence of LBP was 88.74% (134/151) among OMPWF. The multivariable model highlighted four related factors: backrest, somatization, squatting and lifting objects weighing more than 10 lb more than twice per minute.
Conclusions. The prevalence of LBP among OMPWF appears to be high and highlights a major occupational health concern.
BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2016; 17: 314.
Published online 2016 Jul 26. doi: 10.1186/s12891-016-1180-y
Ning Jia, Tao Li, Yuzhen Li, Xueyan Zhang, Yongen Gu, Zhongxu Wang
Department of Occupational Protection and Ergonomics, National Institute of Occupational Health and Poison Control, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Beijing, China
Shuangqiu Hu, Xinhe Zhu, Kang Sun
Labor Health Occupational Disease Prevention and Control Center, Zhuzhou, China
Long Yi, Qiong Zhang
Wind Power Division, Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Institute Corporation, China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock, Zhuzhou, China
Hunan University of Technology, Zhuzhou, China