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Harm from wind turbines – What has been known for decades  

Author:  | Health, Human rights, Noise

University of Waterloo Seminar, May 7, 2014


1948: Definition of health

Constitution of the World Health Organization:

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”

Acknowledgement: Annoyance

Annoyance is acknowledged to be an adverse health effect.

  1. Health Canada, Community Noise Annoyance, Its Your Health (2005, September)
  2. Michaud, D. S., Keith, S. E., & McMurchy, D., “Noise Annoyance in Canada”, Noise Health, 7, 39-47 (2005)
  3. Pedersen, E., & Persson Waye, K., “Wind Turbine Noise, Annoyance and Self-Reported Health and Well Being in Different Living Environments”, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 64, 480-486 (2007) doi:10.1136/oem.2006.031039
  4. Suter, A. H., Noise and Its Effects, Washington, DC: Administrative Conference of the United States (1991)
  5. New South Wales. Parliament. Legislative Council. General Purpose Standing Committee No. 5, Rural Wind Farms (2009, December)

Definition: Sound versus noise

World Health Organization defines noise as “unwanted sound.” [Berglund, B., Lindvall, T., & Schwela, D. H., Guidelines for Community Noise, Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization (1999)]

Sound meters can assess sound; however, humans assess “noise.”

Humans are being considered as “objective measuring instruments (New Experts), whose reports and descriptions must be taken seriously and quantified by technical measurements.” [Bray, Wade, Acoustical Society of America 164th Meeting, Kansas City, MO, 22‐26 October, 2012, 2aNS6, Relevance and applicability of the Soundscape concept to physiological or behavioural effects caused by noise at very low frequencies which may not be audible.]

2009: Commonly reported symptoms

Dr. Nina Pierpont documented symptoms reported by individuals exposed to wind turbines which include: sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, ear pressure, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, visual blurring, tachycardia, irritability, problems with concentration and memory, and panic episodes associated with sensations of internal pulsation or quivering when awake or asleep. [Pierpont, N., Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment, Santa Fe, NM: K-Selected Books (2009)]

“I am happy to accept these symptoms … what Pierpont describes is effects of annoyance by noise – a stress effect …” —Geoff Leventhall, Wind turbine syndrome – an appraisal

“… well-known stress effects of exposure to noise …” —David Colby et al., Wind turbine sound and health effects: an expert panel review

“… Wind Turbine Syndrome is the result of stress from annoyance by audible noise from wind turbines …” —Geoff Leventhall, Wind farms and human health

Noise: Direct and indirect pathways

World Health Organization, Night Noise Guidelines for Europe, 2009:

High sound level:  direct cause of stress
Moderate sound level:  indirect pathway to annoyance and stress, via disturbance of activities, sleep, and communication and cognitive and emotional response

Stress reactions of autonomic nervous system and endocrine system (pituitary, adrenal) affect biological risk factors involving blood pressure and viscosity, cardiac output, and blood lipids, glucose, and clotting factors – which lead to manifest disorders, namely cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and ischemic heart disease.

2010: Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health:

“While some people living near wind turbines report symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and sleep disturbance, the scientific evidence available to date does not demonstrate a direct causal link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects.” [emphasis added; Chief Medical Officer of Health. The potential health impact of wind turbines. try_reports/wind_turbine/wind_turbine.pdf

CMOH report only looked at direct links.

2011: Direct and indirect impacts

“… The Tribunal has found above that “serious harm to human health” includes both direct impacts (e.g., a passer-by being injured by a falling turbine blade or a person losing hearing) or indirect impacts (e.g., a person being exposed to noise and then exhibiting stress and developing other related symptoms). This approach is consistent with both the WHO definition of health and Canadian jurisprudence on the topic.” [Case Nos.: 10-121/10-122 Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Environmental Review Tribunal, Decision, p 190]

The ERT Decision expressed concerns “… about the Director’s apparent lack of consideration of indirect health effects and the need for further work on the MOE’s practice of precaution …” [p 206]

Government Policies

1986 Policy: Health Canada

“It is clear … that existing policies and practices are not sufficiently effective to ensure that Canadian men and women of all ages and backgrounds can have an equitable chance of achieving health … Conflicting interests may exist between sectors.” —Achieving health for all: a framework for health promotion [emphasis added]

2008 Policy: World Health Organisation

“Different government policies, depending on their nature, can either improve or worsen health and health equity.” —Closing the gap in a generation

2009: Green Energy Act, Ontario

Preamble: The Government of Ontario is committed to fostering the growth of renewable energy projects, which use cleaner sources of energy, and to removing barriers to and promoting opportunities for renewable energy projects and to promoting a green economy. [emphases added]

Industry-led: government-supported

Message from Co-Chair Geoff Munro, Chief Scientist & Assistant Deputy Minister, Innovation and Energy Technology Sector, Natural Resources Canada:

“This Wind Technology Roadmap is an industry-led, government-supported initiative that has developed a long-term vision for the Canadian wind energy industry and identified the major technology gaps and priorities to achieve a major increase in deployment of wind energy in Canada.”

Yesterday’s and Today’s Industrial Wind Turbines


Real property value: Denmark

“An erector of a wind turbine has a duty to pay compensation for loss of value of real property following the erection of the wind turbine. the size of the loss of value is determined by an appraisal authority.” [Danish Energy Agency, “Loss of value to real property due the erection of wind turbines”, US/supply/Renewable-energy/WindPower/Onshore-Wind-Power/Loss-of-value-to-real-property/Sider/Forside.aspx, cited August 21, 2012]

2011 Ontario disclosure

“3. Are there any hydro generating projects planned for the immediate area? eg: Wind Turbines” [Ontario Real Estate Association, Seller Property Information Statement, Form 220 for use in the Province of Ontario, Revised 2011]


Other research

2004: Special edition: Noise & Health

“It is difficult for residents to protect themselves against low frequency emissions.”

“Conventional methods of assessing annoyance, typically based on A-weighed equivalent sound level, are inadequate for low frequency noise and lead to incorrect decisions by regulatory authorities.

Experiments with both animals and humans have shown that the vibroacoustic stress or causes thickening of cardiovascular structures (cardiac muscle and blood vessels).

2007: Examples of reviews

LFN-exposed animal models: “LFN is an agent of disease and the respiratory tract is one of its preferential targets.” —Branco NA et al, 2007, Respiratory pathology in vibroacoustic disease: 25 years of research. [Review] Revista Portuguesa de Pneumologia. 13(1):129- 35, 2007 Jan-Feb [27 refs]

Patients and animals: “At present, infrasound (0-20 Hz) and low-frequency noise (20-500 Hz) (ILFN, 0-500 Hz) are agents of disease that go unchecked. … Frequency-specific effects are not yet known, valid dose-responses have been difficult to identify, and large-scale epidemiological studies are still lacking.” —Alves-Pereira M & Branco NA, Vibroacoustic disease: biological effects of infrasound and low-frequency noise explained by mechanotransduction cellular signalling. [Review] Progress in Biophysics & Molecular Biology. 93(1-3):256-79, 2007 Jan-Apr. [123 refs]

2011 Review

“There is sufficient research and history to link the sensitivity of some people to inaudible amplitude-modulated infra and low-frequency noise to they type of symptoms described by those living near industrial wind turbines. This information should have served as a warning sign.”

—James, Richard R. Wind Turbine Infra and Low-Frequency Sound: Warnings Signs That Were Not Heard DOI: 10.1177/0270467611421845, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society published online 15 December 2011,

Other research

1982 Investigation

Downwind 2 MW MOD turbine, Boone, North Carolina [N.D. Kelley et al., A methodology for assessment of wind turbine noise generation]:

“unexpected noise complaints from a few residents within 3 km”

“… hypothesize one of the causal factors related to annoyance associated with the pulsating pressure fields in the rooms measured is a coupling with human body resonances … creating a sensation of a whole-body vibration.” [emphasis added]

“This perception is more noticeable indoors…”

1987 Proposed Metric

N.D. Kelley, A proposed metric for assessing the potential of community annoyance from wind turbine low-frequency noise emissions, November 1987, Presented at Windpower’87 Conference and Exposition, October 5-8, 1987, San Francisco, California:

“… over a range of 5-100 Hz …

“4. Calculate the equivalent PLSL or PC levels at the reference distance of 1 km …

“Add 15 dB to the results of step (4)”

[PLSL = predicted low-frequency sound level; PC = predicted C-weighted]


Birgitta Berglund and Peter Hassmen, Sources and effects of low-frequency noise, J Acoust Soc Am 99 (5), May 1996:

Further research is needed in relation to a number of features and outcomes of low-frequency noise. These needs include the following.
(1) In general, there has been too little research on the role of different frequency spectra of noise in the production of effects on humans. Greater consideration of this factor in many studies of noise is desirable.
(2) Most of the research of adverse effects of low-frequency noise in humans has used short durations of exposure. It is of great importance to research prolonged exposures …” [emphases added]

2000: WHO on low-frequency noise in general

“Health effects due to low-frequency components in noise are estimated to be more severe than for community noises in general” —World Health Organization, Guidelines for Community Noise, 2000

2004: Low-frequency noise exposure in general

“… chronic psychophysiological damage may result from long-term exposure to low-level low frequency noise.”

“The claim that their ‘lives have been ruined’ by the noise is not an exaggeration …”

Low frequency noise annoyance

“Those exposed may adopt protective strategies, such as sleeping in their garage if the noise is less disturbing there. Or they may sleep elsewhere, returning to their own homes only during the day.”

[Leventhall HG. Low frequency noise and annoyance. Noise Health [serial online] 2004 [cited 2009 Dec 31]; 6:59-72. Available from:

2007: National Research Council:

“Low-frequency vibration and its effects on humans are not well understood. Sensitivity to such vibration resulting from wind-turbine noise is highly variable among humans…. studies on human sensitivity to very low frequencies are recommended.” —National Research Council (NRC). Environmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects, 2007, Washington, DC [emphasis added]

2007: Wind turbine noise characteristics

“Sound generated by wind turbines has particular characteristics and it creates a different type of nuisance compared to usual urban, industrial, or commercial noise.”

[Soysai, H., and O. Soysai. Wind farm noise and regulations in the eastern United States. 2007. Proceedings of the Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise. Lyon, France: September 20-21, 2007. INCE/Europe.]

2008: Wind turbine noise is more annoying

“… wind turbine sound is relatively annoying, more so than equally loud sound from aircraft or road traffic.”

“… and (more) sound mitigation measures must be considered.”

—Pedersen et al., 2008, Project WINDFARMperception, Visual and acoustic impact of wind turbine farms on residents, Netherlands

2010 to 2014: Inner ear research

2010: “In this review, we consider possible ways that low frequency sounds, at levels that may or may not be heard, could influence the function of the ear.” [Salt, Alec N. and Hullar, T.E. Responses of the ear to low frequency sounds, infrasound and wind turbines. Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, 63110, USA. Hearing Research 2010 Sep 1; 268(1-2):12-21. Epub 2010 Jun 16]

2011: “Based on our current knowledge of how the ear works, it is quite possible that low-frequency sounds at the levels generated by wind turbines could affect those living nearby.” [Salt, Alec N. and Kaltenbach, James A. Infrasound From Wind Turbines Could Affect Humans Bulletin of Science Technology & Society 2011 31: 296, DOI: 10.1177/0270467611412555]

2012: “… we have to be concerned that sounds that are not perceived are clearly transduced by the ear and may still affect people in ways that have yet to be fully understood.” [Salt, Alec N. and Lichtenhan, Jeffery T. Perception-based protection from low- frequency sounds may not be enough Invited paper presented at Inter-noise 2012, New York City, NY]

2014: “Based on well-established principles of the physiology of the ear and how it responds to very low-frequency sounds, there is ample justification to take this problem more seriously than it has been to date.” [Salt AN and Lichtenhan JT, How Does Wind Turbine Noise Affect People? Acoustics Today. A publication of the Acoustical Society of America. Volume 10: Issue One: Winter 2014]

Acknowledgements 2012–2014

2012: Wisconsin: Brown County Board of Health

“Therefore, be it resolved that the Brown County Board of Health formally requests temporary emergency financial relocation assistance from the State of Wisconsin for those Brown County families that are suffering adverse health effects and undue hardships caused by the irresponsible placement of industrial wind turbines around their homes and property. The State of Wisconsin emergency financial assistance is requested until the conditions that have caused these undue hardships are studied and resolved, allowing these families to once again return safely to their homes and property.”

2012: A Cooperative Measurement Survey and Analysis of Low Frequency and Infrasound at the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County, Wisconsin. Prepared cooperatively by: Channel Islands Acoustics, Camarillo, California; Hessler Associates, Haymarket, Virginia; Rand Acoustics, Brunswick, Maine; and Schomer and Associates, Champaign, Illinois. Report number 122412-1. Issued December 24, 2012.

“The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry. I thould be addressed beyond the present practice of showing that wind turbine levels are magnitudes below the threshold of hearing at low frequencies.” [emphasis added]

2012: Massachusetts: Falmouth Health Department (June 11, 2012)

“The Falmouth Board of Health requests that Mass DPH immediately initiate a health assessment of the impacts of the operation of wind turbines in Falmouth. This appeal is compelled by two years of consistent and persistent complaints of health impacts during turbine operation. … Due to the increasing intensity of the reported health impacts, the Board is considering emergency actions. To determine the appropriateness of such actions, the Board requests immediate guidance on interim measures to protect the health of affected individuals while the complete health assessment is being conducted.”

2012: Town of Falmouth vs. Town of Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals and Others

“By order of the court, preliminary injunction shall issue until further order of the courts. 1. The Town of Falmouth, its Selectmen, agents and persons acting in concert shall be restrained from operating the Wind Turbines located at the Waste Water Treatment Facility except during the hours of 7am to 7pm, every day of the week except Sunday.”

—Superior Court Civil Action No. BACV 2013-00281, November 21, 2013

Judicial processes in other venues

2012: Supreme Court Bavaria Germany: 3 dB addition for pulsed noise for the E82 and compensation

2012: High Court UK: Viewscape/landscape

2013: Supreme Court Portugal: Removal of 4 turbines and compensation

Children and vulnerability to noise

WHO: vulnerable groups

  • The fetus and babies
  • Preterm, low birth weight and small for gestational age babies
  • Children with dyslexia and hyperactivity
  • Children on ototoxic medication”

Direct and indirect effects

Direct: ear damage

Indirect (physiological and psychological effects):

  • impaired cognition
  • stress-related somatic effects (stress hormone, blood pressure and muscle spasm)
  • psychological effects n annoyance/isolation
    • sleep disturbance and mental health issues
    • cognitive effects – reading, concentration, memory and attention issues, (reading comprehension and long term memory)
    • Academic performance affects

—World Health Organization, Children and Noise, Children’s Health and the Environment, WHO Training Package for the Health Sector,

Pre-existing medical conditions

  • Autism [1,2,3]
  • Asthma [4,5]
  • Migraine [6,7]
  • Bronchitis [8]
  • Epilepsy [9,10]
  • Childhood asthma [4] and migraine [6] can be triggered by stress

[1] Cristina Becchio, Morena Mari, Umberto Castiello, (2010). Perception of Shadows in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders PLoS ONE | May 2010 | Volume 5 | Issue 5 | e10582. Retrieved from

[2] Catherine Purple Cherry and Lauren Underwood. The ideal home for the autistic child: physiological rationale for design strategies. Autism Science Digest: The Journal Of Autismone, Issue 03 Retrieved from

[3] Flavia Cortesi, Flavia Giannotti, Anna Ivanenko, Kyle Johnson (2010). Sleep in children with autistic spectrum disorder, Sleep Medicine 11 (2010) 659–664.

[4] Hartmut Ising, Martin Ising (2002), Chronic cortisol increases in the first half of the night caused by road traffic noise. Noise and Health 2002,4(16):13-21. Retrieved from;year=2002;volume=4;issue=16;spage=13;epage=21;aulast=Ising

[5] Bockelbrink A, Willich SN, Dirzus I, Reich A, Lau S, Wahn U, Keil T. (2008) Environmental noise and asthma in children: sex specific differences J Asthma. 2008 Nov;45(9):770-3.

[6] Neut D, Fily A, Cuvellier JC, Vallée L (2011). The prevalence of triggers in paediatric migraine: a questionnaire study in 102 children and adolescents. J Headache Pain. 2011 Nov 1. [Epub ahead of print]

[7] Doreen Wagner, Velitchko Manahilov, Gunter Loffler, Gael E. Gordon, and Gordon N. Dutton, Visual Noise Selectively Degrades Vision in Migraine Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, April 2010, Vol. 51, No. 4. Retrieved from

[8] Ising H, Lange-Asschenfeldt H, Moriske HJ, Born J, Eilts M., Low frequency noise and stress: bronchitis and cortisol in children, Noise Health. 2004 Apr-Jun;6(23):21-8

[9] Gilboa T. Epilepsia. 2011 Dec 9. Emotional stress-induced seizures: Another reflex epilepsy? doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03342.x. [Epub ahead of print]

[10] Epilepsy Facts – Epilepsy Canada Cited March 2012, Retrieved from www.

2003: Children and possible irreversible negative consequences

“It is likely that children represent a group which is particularly vulnerable to the non-auditory health effects of noise.” [emphasis added]

“… there is a possible risk that exposure to an environmental stressor such as noise may have irreversible negative consequences for this group …” [emphasis added]

[Stephen A Stansfeld and Mark P Matheson (2003), Noise pollution: non-auditory effects on health, British Medical Bulletin 2003; 68: 243–257. DOI: 10.1093/bmb/ldg033 Retrieved from]

2009 Children & learning

“The American National Standards Institute emphasizes that school buildings’ sound isolation should prevent two types of noise: … outside of the school building … within the school building such as unwanted speech.”

[Robert Ljung, Patrik Sorqvist and Staffan Hygge (2009), Effects of road traffic noise and irrelevant speech on children’s reading and mathematical performance. Noise and Health, Oct-Dec 2009.;year=2009;volume=11;issue=45;spage=194;epage=198;aulast=Ljung]

2010: Long-term sleep disturbances in children: A cause of neuronal loss

“Animal experiments unequivocally show that sleep loss even for three or four days can adversely and permanently affect neurophysiological functions and neurogenesis.”

“This review summarises the increasing evidence … that chronic disturbances of sleep adversely affect brain development … Pediatric neurologists, the scientific community and the public must be aware of these recent scientific developments. Further studies are urgently required.”

—James E. Jan et al., European Journal of Paediatric Neurology 14 (2010) 380-390

2012: WHO: short- and long-term health problems

“Noise is an underestimated threat that can cause a number of short- and long-term health problems, such as for example sleep disturbance, cardiovascular effects, poorer work and school performance, hearing impairment, etc.”

—World Health Organization Noise Facts and Figures, cited December 23, 2012,

Low frequency noise guidelines

2009: Low frequency noise guidelines

“It is proposed that wind turbines would not be permitted less than 550 metres from the nearest dwelling and this minimum setback would increase with the number and loudness of turbines. It is also proposed that there would be setback distances from all roads, railways, and property side and rear lot lines, and there would be ongoing requirements to monitor and address low frequency noise and vibrations.’ —John Gerretsen, Minister of the Environment (Ontario), email July 13, 2009, 3:56 pm

2009: LFN/infrasound guidelines

“… CanWEA submits that the proposed requirement for infrasound or low frequency noise monitoring as a condition of the REA be removed.” —CanWEA EBR Posting 010-6516 (Proposed Ministry of the Environment Regulations to Implement the Green Energy and Green Economy Act. 2009) – CanWEA’s Supplemental Submission Dated July 24, 2009, EBR Comment ID 123788. Signed Robert Hornung President.

2011: LFN/infrasound guidelines

In fact, according to our analyses, the most economical turbines, the 3 MW category, are the ones that will be strongly affected by the new rules. This applies to open terrain in particular, where in future low frequency noise will dictate and increase the distance requirements to neighbours for close to half of the projects that we are already aware of over the next 2 to 3 years. … The proposed low frequency limit values may hinder the development of onshore wind in Denmark, including meeting our commitments in relation to the EEC. Ultimately, we consider there is a danger that the regulations will be coped by other countries and accordingly this will provide an obstacle to the popularisation of wind energy at a global level. Both issues will damage Vestas as a business, including affecting Danish activities.” [emphases added]

—Ditleve Engel, Chief Executive Officer, Vestas Wind Systems, letter 29 June 2011

Wrap up

2009: Health effect “conclusively demonstrated”

“Health Canada provides advice on the health effect of noise and low-frequency electric and magnetic fields from proposed wind turbine projects, particularly for environmental assessments done under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. to date, their examination of the scientific literature on wind turbine noise is that the only health effect conclusively demonstrated from exposure to wind turbine noise is an increase of self-reported general annoyance and complaints (e.g, headaches, nausea, tinnitus, vertigo).” [emphasis added]

—Correspondence from the Honourable Rona Ambrose, June 30, 2009

2010: ON Freedom of Information

“… the setback distances should be calculated using a sound level limit of 30 to 32 dBA at the receptor, instead of the 40 dBA sound level limit.” [emphasis added]

“It appears compliance with the minimum setbacks and the noise study approach currently being used to approve the siting of WTGs will result or likely result in adverse effects …”

—MOE memorandum, Ontario Senior Environmental Officer, April 9, 2010

2010: Setbacks and noise levels expected to adversely affect some

“The audible sound from wind turbines, at the levels experienced at typical receptor distances in Ontario, is nonetheless expected to result in a non-trivial percentage of persons being highly annoyed. As with sounds from many sources, research has shown that annoyance associated with sound from wind turbines can be expected to contribute to stress related health impacts in some persons.” [emphases added]

—Low frequency Noise and Infrasound Associated with Wind Turbine Generation Systems, A Literature Review, Ontario Ministry of Environment. RFP December 10, 2010 [MOE consultant report]

2011: Environmental Review Tribunal

“This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans. The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.”

—Case Nos. 10-121/10-122 Erickson v. Director, Ministry of the Environment Environmental Review Tribunal, Decision, p 207

2013: Health Canada wind turbine noise study

“Dr. Michaud acknowledged that there is credible scientific support for an association between wind turbine noise and community annoyance. He explained that the study will help to build the evidence base to determine the link between nosie created by wind turbines, including infrasound and low frequency, and variables like sleep disturbance, stress, quality of life and annoyance.”

—Dr. David Michaud, meeting with MP Poilieve, June 2013 newsletter

2012–2014: Reported wind turbine health effects

Austrian Medical Association Issues Warning, Calls for Comprehensive Studies on Wind Turbine Noise and minimum safety distances to populated areas. April 30 2014

Roy D. Jeffery, Carmen M.E. Krogh, and Brett Horner, Industrial wind turbines and adverse health effects Can J Rural Med 2014;19(1)

Enbom H and Enbom IM, Infrasound from wind turbines: An overlooked health hazard,” Läkartidningen, vol. 110 (2013), pp. 1388-89.

Roy D. Jeffery, Carmen Krogh, and Brett Horner, Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines Can Fam Physician 2013; 59: 473-475 (Commentary)

Roy D. Jeffery MD FCFP, Carmen Krogh, Brett Horner CMA, Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines, Letter to editor, Vol 59: September • septembre 2013, Canadian Family Physician • Le Médecin de famille canadien

Hanning, Christopher D. and Evans, Alun Editorial: Wind turbine noise British Medical Journal, BM J2 012;344. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e1527 (8 March 2012)

Nissenbaum, Michael A.; Aramini, Jeffery J.; and Hanning, Christopher D. Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health Noise & Health, September-October 2012, Volume 14, p 243

1999: WHO precaution in general

“… where there is a reasonable possibility that public health will be damaged, action should be taken to protect public health without awaiting full scientific proof.” [emphasis added]

—World Health Organization, Guidelines for Community Noise, WHO (1999).

Children: precaution

Policy Interpretation Network on Children’s Health and Environment:

“Policies that may protect children’s health or may minimise irreversible health effects should be implemented, and policies or measures should be applied based on the precautionary principle, in accordance with the Declaration of the WHO Fourth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Budapest in 2004.”

—Report WP7 Summary PINCHE policy recommendations, Policy Interpretation Network on Children’s Health and Environment (PINCHE) QLK4-2002-02395


  • Government lack of acknowledgement of health issues
  • Burden of proof of causality before prevention and precaution n Reported loss of trust in the processes/systems
  • Loss of decision-making rights (imposed without consent)
  • Characterizations: “NIMBYISM” [not in my backyard]; “anti-wind”, “anti-wind activist”; “opponent”; and attributing negative effects based on fright factors/lack of financial agreements/nocebo effect.
  • Community/individual financial burdens: consultation and appeal processes; relocate; remain exposed; enter into legal actions


  • Acknowledge that:

    • r>Experimental and human research on noise including low frequency noise/infrasound and risk factors are available.
    • If sited too close to residences, wind turbines can cause harm to humans.
    • Children are vulnerable to effects of noise.
  • Invoke prevention and precaution before approving more projects.
  • Provide relief/remedy to those reporting harm.
  • Implement vigilance and long term surveillance monitoring.

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