Resource Documents — latest additions
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: Palmer, William
Almost without hesitation, most people can identify a sound that is annoying to them, whether it might be fingernails on a chalkboard, a barking dog late at night, a mosquito buzzing in their ear, or their own particular example. Classic acoustics texts identify key points related to annoyance. These “special characteristics of noise” include tonality, a non-random cyclical nature, pitch, roughness, rise time, and dominance of noise during sleeping hours when environmental noises diminish. A new source of environmental sound arises from wind turbines, a rapidly growing method of generating electricity. Studies such as the “Health Canada Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study” have documented noise annoyance complaints. This paper categorizes wind turbine noise complaints based on face-to-face interviews with impacted individuals, and correlates logs of complaints to conditions at the time. Recordings made in a controlled manner of environmental sound samples, such as flowing streams, wind in coniferous trees, or wind in bare or leafed deciduous trees as well as other sounds found in the environment, such as vehicles passing by on highways, aircraft overhead, and railway travel are compared with sound recordings from wind turbines. The comparisons included analysis of LZeq, LAeq, narrow band analysis, evaluation of amplitude and frequency modulation, and fluctuation strength. Development of modifiers to normal LAeq sound limits is suggested to improve the effectiveness of regulations. A key finding shows annoyance is related more to changes and characteristics at a particular time, rather than to longterm averages of sound. Why annoying sounds matter is a complex subject. Some consider “annoying” has little impact more than, “your gum chewing is annoying,” while for others, an annoying sound can mean loss of sleep, and loss of that restorative time itself has many documented adverse effects.
Global Environment, Health and Safety 2017, Vol.1, No. 2: 12
Download original document: “Why wind turbine sounds are annoying, and why it matters”
Author: Hemmel, William
Photos by William Hemmel, Aerial Photo NH
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”