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Noise and Health – Collector Wind Farm

There is now significant national and international research and disquiet indicating that an undeniable health problem exists for people whose residences are sited in close proximity to industrial wind turbines. Undoubtedly there are multifactorial causes, but the most consistently demonstrated association is that of intrusive noise both audible and inaudible. Inaudible noise is both low frequency noise and infrasound.

Infrasound, while not actively “heard” is perceived by the highly sensitive outer hair cells of the vestibular apparatus of the inner ear as a vibration. Human vibration detection is many times more sensitive than that of sound. Infrasound is sound of less than 20 Hertz and some of the frequencies in this range are associated with synchronisation of brain waves particularly the theta waves with cycles of 5 to 8 cycles per second. The mechanism of ill health is mediated by repeated stimulation during sleep to a wakeful or alerted state resulting in chronic sleep deprivation. As with motion sickness, it appears to affect some members of the community more than others. Human hearing never sleeps, hence the disruptive nature of intrusive sound and why for, example, we use noise emitting smoke alarms at night for warning rather than some other alerting device.

There are known at-risk associations such as age (both the young and people over 50 years) and sufferers of migraine, tinnitus, motion sickness or people with previous middle ear problems, either through disease or degenerative change.

Also, adverse health effects seem to worsen with prolonged exposure to infrasound and are thus thought to be cumulative in effect.

To fully understand the relationship of industrial wind turbines (IWT) and ill health it is necessary to understand the particular characteristics of IWT noise and the physiological effects likely to be produced in human recipients. Background information is provided in the following section within an historical and current context. 

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