Resource Documents: Portugal (14 items)
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Indirect Impacts of Wind Farms on Terrestrial Mammals: Insights from the Disturbance and Exclusion Effects on Wolves (Canis lupus)
Author: Ferrão da Costa, Gonçalo; et al.
Due to the technical and functional characteristics of wind turbines, impact assessment studies have focused mainly on flying vertebrates. Nevertheless, evidence from the little available knowledge indicates potential impacts on large terrestrial mammals resulting from habitat fragmentation and increasing human disturbance. Over the last 15 years, more than 900 wind turbines were built inside the range of the Portuguese wolf. Due to the endangered status of this large carnivore in Portugal, several monitoring plans were conducted, resulting in a reasonable amount of information being collected on the effects of wind farms on wolves. We reviewed the methodological approaches, compiled major findings and summarised the mitigation/compensation measures used in Portuguese wind farms. The overall outcomes show increasing human disturbance in wind farm areas, resulting in lower wolf reproduction rates during construction and the first years of operation, as well as shifts in denning site locations of more than 2.5 km away from the wind farm. These findings are of major concern in humanised landscapes, where suitable wolf breeding habitats are reduced. As precautionary measure, new wind farm projects should be restricted in areas that are closer than 2 km from known wolf denning locations.
Gonçalo Ferrão da Costa
Bioinsight, Odivelas, Portugal
Grupo Lobo, Department of Animal Biology and CE3C—Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal
CIBIO/InBIO—Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto, Vairão, Portugal
In: Mascarenhas M., Marques A., Ramalho R., Santos D., Bernardino J., Fonseca C. (eds) Biodiversity and Wind Farms in Portugal. Springer Cham, 2018; chapter 5, pp 111–134
Author: Castelo Branco, Nuno; Alves-Pereira, Mariana; et al.
In November 2006, 4 Industrial Wind Turbines (IWT) were installed in the vicinity of a residential dwelling in Portugal. In March 2007, this team was contacted by the family requesting assistance in dealing with their Infrasound & Low Frequency Noise (ILFN) problem that they claimed was being generated by the IWT. The family began legal proceedings for the removal of the IWT, and in September 2007, this team’s first report was presented at the 2nd International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise. In June 2010, a follow-up report of this case was presented at the 14th International Meeting on Low Frequency Noise and Vibration and its Control, wherein ILFN-induced pathology was confirmed through histology in this family’s thoroughbred horses. The goal of this report is to provide second follow-up to this case, five years later.
Nuno A. A. Castelo Branco, M.D., Senior Surgical Pathologist
Mariana Alves-Pereira, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineer, Lusófona University
Augusto Martinho Pimenta, M.D., Senior Neurologist, Julio de Matos Hospital
José Reis Ferreira, M.D., Senior Pneumologist, Clínica Doentes Pulmonares
Presented at EuroNoise 2015, 31 May–3 June, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Download original document: “Low Frequency Noise-Induced Pathology: Contributions Provided by the Portuguese Wind Turbine Case”
Author: Supremo Tribunal de Justiça
Wind turbine #2 is at a distance of 321.83 m from the house and 182.36 m from the stables; wind turbine #3 at 539.92 m and 439.64 m, respectively; wind turbine #4 at 579.86 m and 565.50 m; and wind turbine #1 at 642.08 m and 503 m.
Before November 2006, Quinta was a quiet and peaceful place, with little human presence in the surrounding area, and limited human presence at the site itself – only birds, vegetation, and trees. Before November 2006, the plaintiffs never reported the existence of insomnia, difficulty sleeping, or sleep disturbances. After the start of operation of wind turbines 1, 2, 3 and 4, the plaintiffs have reported the existence of insomnia, sleep difficulties, and sleep disturbances. … After the commissioning of the wind turbines, the 1st plaintiff had complaints of mood changes, fatigue, headache, and hypersensitivity to noise. The remaining members of the household had similar but less severe complaints. …
The right to rest, tranquility and sleep are aspects of the right to humane treatment (Article 25, para. 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Portugal), which is part of established fundamental rights, the collection of rights, freedoms, and guarantees. These personhood rights are well protected against any unlawful interference, not necessarily in blame for an offense in intent to harm the victim, but in the offense itself.
The right to rest is offended even though the activity of operating the wind farm in question has been officially authorized. The fact that noise regulations are respected does not mean that it is allowed to affect the rights to rest and health. The wrongfulness, in this perspective, obviates measurement of the noise level by legal standards: The illegality of a noisy behavior that harms the rest, tranquility, and sleep of others is precisely the fact that unjustifiably and beyond socially tolerable limits is injurious to the rights integrated in the bundle of rights, freedoms, and guarantees.
Indeed, “the consecration of a maximum sound level of noise just means that the administration can not authorize the installation of equipment or grant licensing of activities that do not respect that ceiling, and disregard of this limit is considered a violation of a regulatory ordinance.” That is, “the General Regulation on Noise only have effects within the administrative activity and in scope, and may not interfere with the protection of personhood rights of the people, whose protection is not exhausted in the noise limit established in this law.”
Collision of Rights
On one side is the right to rest, person, absolute, inviolable, and enrolled in the framework of rights and freedoms …
On the other side, according to the position of the defendant, are constitutionally protected community values, particularly the achievement of the public interest, the unquestioned value of wind turbines as a source of clean energy and that the defendant represents a clean energy industry and thus a defender of the environment. …
Having been established that the 1st plaintiff lives and works full time at Quinta, the 2nd plaintiff is domestic (ie working from home), the social life of the family is passed at Quinta, and the two minor children study at Quinta outside school hours, this means that exposure to noise occurs not only at night but also during the day, causing sleep problems at night but constituting disturbed living throughout the day, caused by the noises and flashing shadows as a result of the activity of the wind turbines, physical and mental wear on the plaintiffs’ persons throughout the day.
For this reason, the decision to suspend the wind turbines only from dusk to dawn is unacceptable. … In fact, although not proven that the noise is less in the day day than during the night, if the wind turbines are not turned off, it is clear that the violation of personhood rights is also observed during the daytime, causing anxiety and physical and psychological distress in the whole family.
For this reason, a clear prevalence of personhood rights requires the suspension/removal of all the wind turbines in question. …
For these reasons, in dismissal of the defendant’s case, and the partial granting of the plaintiffs’, it is ordered that the defendant:
a) Suspend the total operation of wind turbine nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the wind farm in the daytime and nighttime, and that the defendant, therefore, remove them.
b) Pay the plaintiffs as compensation the sum of thirty thousand euros.
Lisboa, 30 de Maio de 2013
Granja da Fonseca (Relator)
Ana Paula Boularot
Reply to: How the factoid of wind turbines causing ‘vibroacoustic disease’ came to be ‘irrefutably demonstrated’
Author: Alves-Pereira, Mariana; and Castelo Branco, Nuno
As lead researchers in vibroacoustic disease (VAD), we have been made aware of the article by Chapman et al. in which our work was greatly misrepresented and misunderstood. Correction and clarification are, therefore, required.
Chapman et al. reference a 2007 paper discussing Public health and the importance of low frequency noise (LFN), in which the LFN content of a ‘Grain Terminal home’ and a ‘Wind Turbine home’ are discussed. The grain terminal (GT) case, originally presented in 2004, was first-authored by our cardiologist, and the Wind Turbine (WT) case was first presented in 2007, with a follow-up in 2010. We stand behind the statements published in these papers.
Both families solicited our help. We did not select or procure either case, and we provided our services pro bono. Until then, our experience with LFN-induced pathology had been mostly within occupational exposures, not environmental or residential exposures.
It is not our intention herein to replicate the results of the above-mentioned studies, but some data is required to clarify to the issues at hand.
Some acoustical considerations
The owner of the WT-home paid an independent accredited firm for the acoustical measurements, and provided our team with the numerical information for further analyses. No commercial, financial or professional agreements (contractual or otherwise) existed between this firm and the VAD research team. Figure 1 shows acoustical data compiled by VAD researchers.
As seen in Figure 1, levels of LFN are clearly increased in the bedroom when WT are in operation.
Chapman et al. claimed our work was “of abject methodological quality” (p.247) because “The noise measuring equipment used to measure infrasound in the two houses was different” (p.246). However, in that paper, Alves-Pereira et al., being fully aware of that technical limitation, wrote: “In a perfect world, designed for the most efficient and accurate scientific studies, all noise assessments ought to be conducted with the same equipment and with the same procedures. This is not feasible. So, despite on-site and factory calibrations, a legitimate question will always remain: can the differences between the ILFN levels in the [GT and WT] homes (…) be due to differences in the noise measuring equipment and procedures alone? Despite this legitimate question, these data are sufficient to warrant precautionary measures”.
Some clinical considerations
Another criticism emerged because we “took no account of inattention and lack of energy in school children being common” (p.247).
Upon being contacted by these two families, VAD Team researchers provided non-invasive VAD screening tests. The rationale for these specific tests would require significant self-citation.
The 10-year-old residing since gestation in the GT-home disclosed “the most severe cardiovascular condition”, scoring the highest values in mitral valve leaflet thickening and pericardial thickening. These echo-imaging findings had only previously been seen in older LFN-exposed workers, and were entirely unexpected in a 10-year-old child.
Furthermore, this child had “suffered from asthma until the age of 1 year. At 5–8 months of age, he was medicated for reflux, and then again until he was 1 year old. At 8 months he suffered pneumonia. After the age of 1, he began to develop repeated ear infections that were not responsive to antibiotics. At age 3 he underwent ear surgery. At the age of 5, at school, he suddenly lost his vision, and was taken to the hospital where the EEG revealed a late onset epileptic seizure. Nose bleeds without an apparent cause used to be frequent, but have subsided with age. There is no history of rheumatic fever, radiation or asbestos exposure.” (In: Alves-Pereira et al., citing Araújo et al.)
In the WT-case, Evoked Potentials provided to the 12-year-old boy, disclosed “asymmetries in the right and left nerve conduction times, and the right I-V interlatency value was at the threshold of normal values (4.44ms). The endogenous evoked potential P300 recording occurred at 352ms (normal: 300ms)”. Taken alone, these values are not relevant, but after a two-month vacation away from the WT home, the child disclosed significant improvement: 322ms.
Neurophysiological tests were provided to this child because four months after WT began operation, the parents received a letter from the child’s teacher voicing “concern for the growing difficulties of an otherwise outstanding student, (…) it seems that [the child] has lost interest, makes a lesser effort, as if he were permanently tired. In Physical Education, an abnormal amount of tiredness is also observed. Is [the child] leading a healthy life? Does he sleep sufficient hours during the night?’”
These objective medical tests and clinical histories, disclosing morphological and brain potential changes, go well beyond the scope of “common” lack of energy in school children, as Chapman et al. suggest.
Some biological considerations
The fundamental histological feature found both in LFN-exposed patients and LFN-exposed laboratory animals was also observed in the horses raised on the WT-home property: thickening of vascular walls due to proliferation of extra-cellular matrices in the absence of an inflammatory process. To fully comprehend the rationale and the highly significant implications of these results, a large amount of self-citation would now be required.
Understanding the pathophysiology of LFN-induced diseases requires knowledge on cellular tensegrity architecture that goes beyond the classical models of general physiopathology.[8,9] Mechanotransduction cellular signaling, a relatively new concept, becomes of paramount importance because it is a major target of the LFN agent. In the absence of this new cellular model, the nature of the biological response prompted by LFN exposure cannot be fully understood.
Given the complexity of this subject, difficulty in recognising the significance of our scientific findings reported over the past three decades is entirely understandable.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of studies concerning health impacts of WT on neighbouring residents do not yet provide an adequate quantification of the physical agent of disease, and are based on highly subjective questionnaires lacking clinical corroboration on relevant endpoints. This is flagrantly perpetuated by the Wind Turbine Health Impact Study, as prepared for the State of Massachusetts. In our ongoing investigations, we have repeatedly pointed out the inadequacy of questionnaires as a valid measure of health effect, a position shared by the Strategic Health Impact Assessment on Wind Energy Development, as prepared for the State of Oregon.
We reiterate that LFN-contaminated homes are a significant public health concern, and substantial health deterioration can be observed in humans and animals dwelling without respite in LFN-rich environments. (Disclaimer: this statement cannot and should not be construed as an argument against the implementation of wind turbines.)
On 30 May 2013, the Supreme Court of Justice in Portugal decided upon the removal of the four WT, initially erected in 2006.
School of Economic Sciences and Organizations, Universidade Lusófona, Portugal
Nuno A. A. Castelo Branco
Principal Investigator, VAD Project
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2014 vol. 38 no. 2 pp. 191-192.
1. Chapman S, St George A. How the factoid of wind turbines causing “vibroacoustic disease” came to be “irrefutably demonstrated”. Aust NZ J Public Health 2013; 37:244-9.
2. Alves-Pereira M, Castelo Branco NAA. Public health and noise exposure: the importance of low frequency noise. Proceedings of the Inter-Noise 2007 Conference ; 2007 Aug 28-31; Istanbul, Turkey. [link]
3. Araujo A, Alves-Pereira M, Joanaz de Melo J, Castelo Branco NAA. Vibroacoustic disease in a ten-year-old male. Proceedings of the Internoise 2004 Conference; 2004 Aug 22-25; Prague, Czech Republic
4. Alves-Pereira M, Castelo Branco NAA. In-home wind turbine noise is conducive to vibroacoustic disease. Proceedings of the 2nd International Meet Wind Turbine Noise; 2007 Sep 20-21; Lyon, France. [link]
5. Castelo Branco NAA, Costa e Curto T, Mendes Jorge L, Cavaco Faísca J, Amaral Dias L, Oliveira P, et al. Family with wind turbines in close proximity to home: follow-up of the case presented in 2007. Proceedings of the 14th International Meet Low Frequency Noise Vibration Control; 2010 Jun 9-11; Aalborg, Denmark.
6. Marciniak W, Rodriguez E, Olsowska K, Botvin I, Araujo A, Pais F, et al. Echocardiography in 485 aeronautical workers exposed to different noise environments. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1999;70 Suppl 3:A46-53.
7. Ingberg DE. Cellular tensegrity: defining new rules of biological design that governs the cytoskeleton. J Cell Sci. 1993;104:613-27.
8. Stamenovic D, Fredberg JJ, Wang N, Butler JP, Ingber DE. A microstructural approach to cytoskeletal mechanics based on tensegrity. J Theoretical Biol 1996; 181: 125-136.
9. Wang N, Butler JP, Ingber DE. Mechanotransduction across the cell surface and through the cytoskeleton. Science 1993; 260: 1124-27.
10. Alves-Pereira M, Castelo Branco NAA. Vibroacoustic disease: Biological effects of infrasound and low frequency noise explained by mechanotransduction cellular signaling. Prog Biophy Molec Biol 2007; 93: 256-79. [link]
11. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel [Internet]. Boston (MA): Commonwealth of Massachusetts EEA; 2012 [cited 2014 Jan 15]. Available from: http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/energy/wind/turbine-impact-study.pdf
12. Alves-Pereira M. Review of Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel [Internet]. Boston (MA): Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Massachusetts Department of Public Health; 2012 [cited 2014 Jan 15]. Available from: //docs.wind-watch.org/MassDEP-wind-health-2-Alves_Pereira.pdf
13. Oregon Health Authority. Strategic Health Impact Assessment on Wind Energy Development in Oregon [Internet]. Portland (OR): Government of Oregon Public Health Division; 2013 [cited 2014 Jan 15]. Available from: http://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyEnvironments/TrackingAssessment/HealthImpactAssessment/Documents/Wnd%20Energy%20HIA/Wind%20HIA_Final.pdf
14. Supreme Court of Justice (Portugal). Decision No. 2209/08.0TBTVD.L1.S1. Relevant Case Law in the Field of Environment in 2009 – Supreme Administrative Court, 22nd September, 2009, Judgement 161/05.2TBVLG.S1, Sector: Noise [Internet]. [cited 2014 Jan 15]. Available from: http://www.dgsi.pt/jstj.nsf/954f0ce6ad9dd8b980256b5f003fa814/4559d6d733d1589780257b7b004d464b?OpenDocument [link]
Download original document: “Reply to: How the factoid of wind turbines causing ‘vibroacoustic disease’ came to be ‘irrefutably demonstrated’”