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Resource Documents: AMA (4 items)

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Unless indicated otherwise, documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are shared here 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. • The copyrights reside with the sources indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations.


Date added:  May 22, 2014
Australia, Health, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Letter to AMA: audibility and effects of infrasound

Author:  Rapley, Bruce

I recently became aware of your position statement on wind farms and health dated 14 March, 2014.

I have to say that this public statement has given me great concern with respect to a number of points which I will outline for you.

Your opening statement:

“Wind turbine technology is considered a comparatively inexpensive and effective means of energy production.”

This raises a number of issues that I feel are inappropriate for a medical organisation to comment on. Firstly, line one is a statement regarding the economics of wind turbines which has no place in a statement regarding potential health effects. It is not within your organisation’s professional competence to comment on economic matters and to do so raises questions regarding your credibility and apparent bias. How would your organisation feel about the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) making statements about medical practice?

Secondly, your position statement then passes comment on acoustic immissions:

“Wind turbines generate sound, including infrasound, which is very low frequency noise that is generally inaudible to the human ear.”

To the best of my knowledge, medical practitioners are not generally known for their skill or expertise in acoustics, other than that directly associated with audiometry. To pass comment on areas beyond your knowledge is dangerous and leaves you wide open to serious challenge. Purporting to be experts in areas outside of medicine does not serve your credibility well.

The statement goes on to comment on infrasound, comparing immissions from different sources, yet lacking any sort of scientific credibility because of the significant lack of detailed evidence. Rather, the statements are reckless generalisations that provide no basis for comparison, let alone comprehension, other than in the broadest sense.

“Infrasound is ubiquitous in the environment, emanating from natural sources (e.g. wind, rivers) and from artificial sources including road traffic, ventilation systems, aircraft and other machinery.”

Such broad comparisons do not enhance scientific debate and offer little enlightenment to the uninformed, rather, they are more likely to mislead due to their lack of specificity. It is a well-established fact that low frequency and infrasound immissions from industrial wind turbines differ significantly in a number of critical ways, compared to natural sources like wind and water. Further, man-made sources such as road traffic all differ significantly from natural sources of infrasound. The most significant difference relates to the amplitude modulation of the signal due to blade pass frequency. This phenomenon is not apparent in natural or many other man-made sources: your comparison is without scientific foundation.

Next you appear to have become experts in engineering:

“All modern wind turbines in Australia are designed to be upwind, with the blade in front of the tower. These upwind turbines generate much lower levels of infrasound and low frequency sound.”

The first statement is factual. The second statement leaves out an important fact; when turbulent air is fed into the ‘modern’ upwind-bladed industrial turbines, they can generate significant quantities of infrasound and low-frequency noise. This was established in 1989 in Hawaii by NASA researchers Hubbard and Shepherd. Turbulence resulting from wind turbines being installed too close together, without complying with the international standard for turbine separation distances, is thought to be contributing to the infrasound and low-frequency noise problems at number of Australian wind development sites. Based on the evidence, it would not be unreasonable for the general public to assume that wind developers and turbine manufacturers are more concerned with maximising profit and income from renewable energy certificates (RECS) than from achieving engineering efficiency and safeguarding public health. While the profit motive is an integral part of normal, accepted business practice, profiteering at the expense of public health is unacceptable. When profit overrides public health and well being of the general public, in the face of clear scientific/medical evidence, the practice is doubly damnable and ethically indefensible. To quote the obvious: “The devil is in the detail”. The fact that upwind industrial turbines create sounds that affect animals and humans is abundantly obvious and to compare this version of industrial wind turbine to older technology is of no benefit to those who suffer from the acoustic immissions from the current machines.

Your second paragraph alludes to such ‘devils’. While you state that:

“Infrasound levels in the vicinity of wind farms have been measured and compared to a number of urban and rural environments away from wind farms. The results of these measurements have shown that in rural residences both near to and far away from wind turbines, both indoor and outdoor infrasound levels are well below the perception threshold, and no greater than that experienced in other rural and urban environments.”

the reality is that these statements misrepresent the facts. In essence, what you have done is to ‘cherry-pick’ the data. Further, your statement leads the reader to believe that as long as sound levels are below conscious, and perhaps audible perception, there is no problem. This could not be further from the truth.

A significant problem with the determination of environmental noise relates to the inappropriate use of the A-weighting, still so commonly applied. As it significantly underestimates frequencies below 1,000 Hz and above 3,500 Hz this negates its usefulness in measuring low frequency and infrasound. The point should be obvious. Unfortunately regulation so often lags behind scientific knowledge.

Medicine, while based on a good deal of science, remains, as practiced, an ART. The reason for this is that the practice of medicine involves human beings. Human beings are not simply a collection of chemicals, cells and tissues, randomly existing in the biosphere. Rather they are sentient beings that are subject to multiple stimulatory mechanisms. This is one instance where a holistic viewpoint is nearer the truth than the traditional reductionist viewpoint. The consequence of this view needs further elaboration which you have chosen to omit …

The scientific method is something which is much talked about, but little understood, even by some scientists! The fact of the matter is that science begins with observation. This observation then gives rise to a question: how is that so? What caused that? How does that work? How did that happen?

The question, which usually has some practical relevance, leads to the creation of a ‘model’ of the ‘how’. That model is referred to as the hypothesis. And of course a hypothesis leads to the development of a testing methodology to see if it can be used to explain the facts. The testing usually takes place in a controlled environment where the idea (hypothesis) is put to test by way of practical experiments. With good design, these should attempt to limit the number of variables (things that can be manipulated/changed) and keep all other factors the same. In an ideal world, a control situation could be used to compare the test circumstances to the ‘normal’ condition. A perfect example is a drug trial. Subjects would be randomly assigned (so as not to bias the results) to one of two groups. One group would receive the ‘test substance’ while the other, the control group, would receive a placebo. That is, they would receive a substance (for example a pill) but it would be inactive, that is, lacking the chemical species under test. The strength of the findings is further enhanced if the experimenter and the subjects are both blinded as to who got the real drug. That is the basis of the modern scientific method.

Another perfectly legitimate and accepted method of study for obtaining comparative data is that of the case crossover design, where people act as their own controls. This design is used to demonstrate a causal relationship in situations like allergic reactions to some foods and particular drugs, for example. People living with industrial wind turbines are conducting this experiment all the time. They go away, and notice their symptoms ameliorate. They come back home, and under certain predictable wind and weather conditions, their symptoms recur. This is a clear demonstration, using the scientific method, of a direct and causal relationship between exposure and response. This is why some doctors are advising their patients to move away. It is clear that the exposure to wind turbine noise is damaging their patient’s health, and there is nothing else they can suggest.

A common mistake, when selecting scientific data, relates to a process of choosing what to include. When selection bias exists in data selection, this is colloquially known as ‘cherry-picking’. When this occurs, it necessarily introduces a bias that affects the results. This is apparent from your statement above relating to human perception of sound. If you scan the literature more widely, then a plethora of papers appear which contradict the basis of your argument. To only present one side of the argument is to short-change the readers and the general public. It also facilitates the generation of false impressions.

To return to the scientific method for a moment: when an observation has been made; a question arisen; a hypothesis created; a series of experiments formulated to test the hypothesis and ultimately the results analysed, there are two relevant tests that need to be applied. First, the results have to either support or reject the hypothesis. That means that the hypothesis needs to be able to be falsified and results obtained which are relevant to support or rejection the hypothesis’s claim. Variables need to be measurable. The second test, and equally important, is that the consequences of the results, i.e. acceptance or rejection of the hypothesis, have to be consistent with what is already known. To take an example: If the results of an experiment lead to the conclusion that the ‘conservation of momentum’ did not always occur, then there would be a great deal of concern. Physicists are most unlikely to let go of such a well-supported observation as the conservation of momentum. So, the new findings of an experiment have to fit with our existing reality.

In order to fit with our current reality, or paradigm, there needs to be both internal (within the experiment) and external (in relation to what is already generally known and accepted) consistency to be valid. This is not to say that one day we might not reject the generally accepted view of the conservation of momentum, only that there would need to be extraordinary evidence to cause us to reach that conclusion.

What assists us with comprehending new knowledge and integrating it into our existing understanding of how the universe works is the existence of a mechanism. That is, a way in which we can explain the circumstances we discover through our experiment within the current bounds of knowledge. For your stance to be accepted, there would need to be not only no evidence to the contrary, but also the lack of any understandable mechanism of action. Neither are in fact the case.

Many scientific papers expound the observation that stimuli below conscious perception do, in a number of instances, result in physiological response. This is the case for the effects of low frequency and infrasound, and was noted by Kelley 1987, Chen, Qibai & Shi 2004, Swinbanks 2012, and Schomer 2013 in addition to the work of Professor Salt, a leading neurophysiologist working in this area. Further, there are many plausible mechanisms to explain how sub-conscious perception threshold stimuli may interact with living organisms. The old notion that perception is the threshold above which biological effects occur is not only out-dated, it is a non-sequitur. Take x-rays for example, they are not readily consciously perceivable yet can be quite harmful. Light is in a similar category. Sound is another physical phenomenon that does not need conscious perception to be received by an organism or for that organism to react.

The work of Professor Alec Salt has done much in recent years to elucidate theory on the biological reception of low-frequency sound, complimenting this with extensive laboratory experimentation. To ignore this work is a travesty and is tantamount to lying by omission to the general public. It is another example of cherry-picking the data that effectively distorts the final impression. To add to this work, the research of Dr. Carey Balaban has done much to throw light on the neuronal mechanism of sound reception by the human body. We now have theory, experimental evidence and empirical observation, all pointing in the same direction. To blithely ignore such a body of science and come up with a generalisation of ‘no harm’ is not only lying to the general public but supports a point of view that is largely sympathetic to the commercial, industrial profit motive. This commercial bias has no place in medicine or public health.

The most recent article to come out of Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, from Professors Salt and Lichtenhan is worthy of mention here. Their landmark paper appears in Acoustics Today, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 20-28, Winter 2014. In their paper: How does wind turbine noise affect people?, they succinctly describe the results of their recent work on the effects of low frequency and infrasound on the cochlea mechanism. It appears that the roles of the inner and outer hair cells differ in many significant ways. In particular, the outer hair cells account for only 5 % of the afferent nerve fibres in the acoustic nerve and are of Type II in comparison to the inner hair cells which equate to 95% of the acoustic nerves and are of Type I. Further, the inner hair cells, which are largely responsible for the faculty of hearing in the accepted frequency spectrum of 20 to 20,000 Hz, do not touch the tectorial membrane. They operate by way of transducing movements in the fluid below the membrane into nerve impulses. The outer hair cells, by contrast, are directly connected to the tectorial membrane and are far more responsive to low frequency and infrasound.

The point that Salt and Lichtenhan are making is that the energy that enters the ear canal as low frequency and infrasound is readily translated into neural impulses which reach the brain, albeit they may not be consciously interpreted as sound, but they still reach the cognitive engine. Another critical point concerns their findings that biologically generated amplitude modulated signals occur in the pulse trains of nerve impulses from the inner hair cells as a result of stimulation from a 500 Hz tone summed with 4.8 Hz (their Figure 2).

Their work is a clear demonstration of a biologically-generated modulation to a non-modulated stimulus. The cochlear microphonic response is generated by the outer hair cells,responding to both the high and low frequency components. This occurs either by saturation of the mechano-electric transducer or by cyclically changing the mechanical amplification of the high frequencies. Being insensitive to the lower frequencies, the inner hair cells detect only the high frequency component, which is amplitude modulated at twice the infrasound frequency, in their example. Thus, the inner hair cells essentially ‘see’ the effect of a high-pass filtered version of what the outer hair cells perceive.This is the most clear demonstration of the effect of infrasound on the cochlea. The biophysics of the ear creates an amplitude-modulated signal from a non-amplitude modulated source of two pure tones. This is a neurophysiological explanation of the effect reported by subjects who complain of adverse effects from living too close to industrial wind turbine installations. To ignore such clear evidence is to deny the very substance of the scientific method in favour of a biased commercial approach to public health.

The deliberate exclusion of empirical data, failure to acknowledge existing scientific knowledge and theory is to effectively lie by omission. Such distortion of reality is to degrade science, medicine and discredit the practitioners of those disciplines. I take exception to such biased reporting and the distribution of such misinformation. It is to degrade my profession as a scientist, researcher and consultant.

Your clear statement:

“The available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity.”

is but another example of cherry-picking the data to suit your own position. To arrive at this position it is necessary to actively ignore any scientific data to the contrary. This is clear evidence of bias. What makes this all the more serious is that it appears to be based on the commercial profit motive.

As if adding insult to injury, the following sentence only serves to reinforce this bias viewpoint and flies in the face of the first principle of scientific methodology: OBSERVATION.

“The infrasound and low frequency sound generated by modern wind farms in Australia is well below the level where known health effects occur,”

There is a veritable mountain of evidence to the contrary, yet your organisation chooses to dismiss it. This can be interpreted in no other way than a deliberate attempt to distort reality. The number of observations of demonstrable harm are enormous. The fact that working medical practitioners are observing these and reporting them, and indeed dealing with the consequences, seems to be a point that has completely passed by your organisation. I have personally investigated numerous cases where there is clear evidence of harm including: sleep deprivation; nausea; vertigo; feeling of general malaise; tiredness, irritability; changes in normal mood; inability to concentrate; reduction of appetite; headaches etc. etc. There is clear evidence of stress-related pathology and behavioural changes. Many of these, I might add, occur in people who did not initially have any negative feelings towards the construction of wind turbines, only noticing the symptoms after mechanical commissioning. This is clear evidence of the lack of a nocebo effect. Animal studies only add to this milieu, yet your organisation seems to have also totally ignored animal studies, again misrepresenting the situation.

As the result of health effects reported across the world by people living in close proximity to wind turbine developments, a term has arisen: Wind Turbine Syndrome. This is something of a misnomer. Rather it should be termed: Infrasound and Low-Frequency Syndrome. The point is that the same condition has been extant for decades, associated with sources other than industrial wind turbines. The introduction of large-scale industrial wind turbine installations is a relatively recent development, hence the origin of the term. However, the health effects of low frequency and infrasound have been known for much longer.

In 1984 David Lange was elected Prime Minister of New Zealand. When he moved into the top office in the Beehive (parliamentary building in Wellington, New Zealand) he suffered inexplicable bouts of vertigo and nausea. Such were the severity of the symptoms that he began spending less and less time in the office in order to reduce his feelings of malaise. It was subsequently determined that the air conditioning system was responsible for high levels of low-frequency noise and infrasound. Normally consciously undetectable by the human ear, these rapidly fluctuating levels of air pressure caused by the ventilation fans and resonance in the pipes lead to a redesign of the ventilation system in parliament’s building. Once the modifications to the ventilation system had been carried out, the Prime Minister no longer became ill when working in his office. This is simply another example of a well-known phenomenon associated with ventilation systems in buildings which result in negative health effects for the occupants. This general phenomenon, isolated in the late 1960s termed ‘Sick Building Syndrome’. It is, in essence, little different from the situation that currently exists for thousands of people around the world who live close to industrial wind turbines. The physics is virtually the same. The neurobiology is virtually the same.The health effects are virtually the same. It is well-known by ventilation installers and acousticians that this phenomenon is both well-reported and well-understood. There even exist mitigating technologies to deal with the problem! Phase cancelling technology is frequently employed in situations where low frequency and infrasound resonance occurs in modern buildings. Engineers know that these problems cause health effects, that is why they developed the mitigation technology!

The existence of the phenomenon, its known health effects and potential remediation is powerful evidence as to the reality of the phenomenon. The poignant fact is that no such simple fix is technologically possible in the open environment due to physical factors. Therefore, that the same situation occurs with the physics of sound in open environments should come as no surprise. However, to omit such knowledge from the debate is to negate a significant proportion of existing scientific knowledge and technological understanding. Engineers could feel aggrieved. Commercial bias and the promotion of the profit motive ahead of public health is the only reasonable explanation for the stance taken by your organisation with the release of the statement regarding health effects of industrial wind turbines. This action is shameful and does much to discredit your organisation as a defender of public health and well-being and undermines the very process of science, upon which your discipline of medicine is so reliant.

Perhaps the most egregious statement from your organisation concerns blaming the individuals for their health conditions:

“Individuals residing in the vicinity of wind farms who do experience adverse health or well-being, may do so as a consequence of their heightened anxiety or negative perceptions regarding wind farm developments in their area.”

To pass the buck in this fashion is to abdicate the most basic responsibility of a medical practitioner. To blame the patient for being sick is not only cowardly, but it is against the Hippocratic oath. “It’s all in the mind” is a coward’s way of explaining the phenomenon. It blatantly ignores the evidence and is yet another indication of commercial bias. To vindicate a phenomenon for the purpose of commercial gain or social bias is reprehensible. I can find no other explanation, for to ignore such a large body of evidence to the contrary is to jeopardise the health and safety of your patients, betraying the very patients you are duty- bound and legally obliged to serve.

Apparently not content with this stance, your organisation goes further blaming the observed effects on misinformation.

“The reporting of ‘health scares’ and misinformation regarding wind farm developments may contribute to heightened anxiety and community division, and over-rigorous regulation of these developments by state governments.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. In my own experience I have observed, first hand, the commercial spin from wind turbine companies, predicated on their own commercial gain.

Surprisingly perhaps, we are in agreement on one point:

“The regulation of wind farm developments should be guided entirely by the evidence regarding their impacts and benefits.”

The above statement is reasonable, only providing that the process allows for all evidence to be considered, not a subset which necessarily supports only one point of view. The abundance of health effects needs to be appropriately acknowledged, catalogued and studied. There is seldom smoke without fire. To simply blame any physiological or health effects on mental state is to consign all patients who present with adverse symptoms to the mental asylum. It also ignores the seriousness of the mental health problems being reported which include severe depression, sometimes with suicidal ideation, which I am sure you would recognise is a psychiatric emergency.

Today, a significant amount of scientific evidence exists within the literature to attribute health effects to low frequency and infrasound. Scientific evidence of reasons for individual susceptibility for acute symptoms of Wind Turbine Syndrome exist. Susceptibility factors that even Professor Geoffrey Leventhall now accepts. Three such examples of an individual’s differential response to infrasound and low frequency noise would include:

This work is further supported by the paediatrician Nina Pierpont, who is eminently more qualified to speak on the subject than many others, possessing as she does degrees in biological science and medicine.

Pierpont identified in a case series cross over study that there were three susceptibility factors which increased the risk of people developing these symptoms when others in the same household did not develop the symptoms. The factors included a history of migraines, motion sickness and inner ear pathology. Why have the AMA ignored the work of a paediatric colleague when it is clearly supported by the work of others who are completely independent and in some instances their work preceded hers? Indeed the work over decades by the pathologist, Dr. Nuno Castelo Branco in Portugal has done much to elicit the underlying physiology and manifestation of what has become known as Vibroacoustic Disease.

Why has the AMA ignored this extensive body of work that centres on a potentially serious public health problem? Vibroacoustic Disease is an acknowledged problem in the aircraft industry and mitigations have been developed to deal with the health effects of workers as they become affected. These include echo cardiograms to detect endocardial thickening, as well as the recording of a number of documented behavioural and health changes. Mood alteration, changes in lung function accompany the physiology seen in the histology. Such an extensive body of knowledge has been accumulated in the previous two decades that it is surely criminal to ignore the work of so many scientists and physicians. It must be noted that Vibroacoustic Disease is not just an issue for the aviation industry.

At the Internoise conference in 2012 in New York, Alec Salt stated that infections can block the helicotrema and that such people are extremely sensitive to low-frequency noise. Salt also makes mention of the difference between the inner hair cells’ response to velocity (fluid-coupled) versus the outer hair cells’ response to displacement. This thesis reinforces Swinbanks’s assertion at the fourth international conference on wind turbine noise in Rome, 2011, (“The audibility of low frequency wind turbine noise.”) that is is incorrect to assess low-frequency noise by absolute sound pressure level, but rather the acceleration or rate-of-change of pressure. This is the effect that causes low-frequency sensitivity to fall dramatically as the frequency is reduced (for the inner hair cells). For comparison with a sound level of 100dB at 1Hz, the equivalent hair cell response requires only 69dB at 6Hz, since the acceleration of pressure becomes much greater the faster the rate-of-change. Swinbanks has measured infrasound of 6 Hz at 64 dB.

The importance of the helicotrema in this respect is also recognized in the benchmark paper by Moller & Pedersen in 2004:

“Extraordinary sensitivity to low-frequency sound might be explained by abnormalities in the person’s hearing organs. A theoretical example could be an abnormally small aperture in the helicotrema at the apex of the cochlea. For low­frequency sound the helicotrema acts like a kind of pressure equalization vent for the perilymph in the cochlea, equalizing the pressure between the scala tympani and the scala vestibuli. If the helicotrema is unusually narrow or blocked, it cannot equalize the pressure fast enough, and an unusually high pressure will build up between the scala tympani and the scala vestibuli. The result is a greater mechanical excitation of the basilar membrane, and thus a higher sensitivity to these sounds is expected. For examples of simulations of the effect of the size of helicotrema see e.g. Schick (1994).”

This work is important as it highlights one of the most important aspects of controlling sound perception at low frequencies. Low frequency hearing is well-documented and represents a simple fluid-mechanical system. Low frequency hearing has little to do with emotional state, as you imply. It is simply the response of a hydromechanical system where the stiffness or softness of the absorber (tectorial membrane) is related to the size of the orifice between the two (helicotrema) and the tensioning of the membrane through neural biomechanical feedback (outer hair cells). Your statement of position ignores an enormous body of evidence, instead apparently relying on commercially-based industry rhetoric in the absence of good science.

I do agree with wide and open consultation, though I am yet to see this practiced in an unbiased way.

“Such regulation should ensure that structured and extensive local community consultation and engagement is undertaken at the outset of planning, in order to minimise misinformation, anxiety and community division.”

Your final position statement is yet another example of what I believe is the intention to mislead by understating the case, that is, lying by omission.

“Electricity generation by wind turbines does not involve production of greenhouse gases, other pollutant emissions or waste, all of which can have significant direct and indirect health effects.”

Yes, the actual operation of wind turbines does not directly generate CO₂ immissions in the same way as a coal-fired plant. However, the manufacture of industrial wind turbines involves a large production of CO₂ and other waste products, all of which, it could be argued, pose a risk to human health. Industrial wind turbines generators also rely an a large quantity of ‘rare-earths’ which are costly to extract and harmful to the environment. To tell only half the story is to mislead the public in line with a particular commercial viewpoint, rather than to present information that is relevant to public health in an unbiased, professional and scientific way.

Other pertinent facts such as life time of plant, maintenance and other issues are conveniently ignored by this blanketed approach. Medical practitioners would be well-advised to not pretend that they are any other sort of expert than those associated directly with human physiology and health. To make statements with authority on technological matters and matters of economics is beyond the mandate of a medical practitioner and your association. Medical practitioners would soon object if engineers started offering advice on brain surgery techniques and critiquing surgeons without providing all the data. There is a significant danger when members of a professional society, who are endowed with some respect due to occupation or position, extend their opinions beyond the boundaries of their knowledge.

Being a medical practitioner does not grant licence to pontification on other disciplines. Medical Practitioners have a unique place in society and that very position is put in serious jeopardy when organisations purporting to represent the body of members come out with public statements so biased and lacking in fundamental rigour that it brings the whole profession into question. Simply put: “A cobbler should stick to his last, a tailor should stick to his thread”.

I speak with some authority on these matters as I have been a scientist for some years, having a bachelors degree in biological science, a masterate in technology and a PhD in acoustics and human health. Indeed my PhD thesis focussed on the physical measurement and consequences of low frequency sound within the working environment. Further, I have spearheaded a 15 year development project resulting in a new pc-based technology for environmental sound monitoring and analysis. This technology was recently extended to include vibration and exogenous radiation.

Through the use of this technology I have been able to observe and analyse first-hand, the occurrence of, and human effects of, noise and vibration in the work environment of soldiers. Evaluation included audiometric analysis, whereby I also spearheaded a new automated screening audiometer for use in high noise environments in the field, and psychological assessment of cognition and mood. The results of my work are embargoed for military reasons. However, I can say that sound, particularly low frequency sound, is responsible for many physiological and psychological manifestations that can seriously affect human performance and cognition.

The obviously biased statements made by your organisation regarding the impact of wind turbines on human health are an insult to my work and insulting to science as a whole. To misrepresent the physical situation and to shift blame to the mind-state of affected individuals is to abdicate your responsibility as physicians. Further, it degrades the concept and professional esteem of medical practitioners, mocking the patient who makes genuine complaint. This can only be seen to erode the patient-doctor relationship and as such is surely a serious threat in its own right to the practice of medicine and the promotion of public health.

I urge you and your colleagues to rethink your position with all due speed. Simply put: do not comment on areas beyond your own boundaries of knowledge. Do not tell half-truths, present commercially biased information in the name of health care and stop lying directly and by omission to your patients and the public at large. This matter needs to be urgently addressed to minimise the fallout and retain the respectability that the practice of medicine deserves and the good name of your organisation.

Sincerely yours,

Bruce Rapley BSc, MPhil, PhD.
Principal Consultant, Acoustics and Human Health
Atkinson & Rapley Consulting Ltd.

28 March 2014

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Date added:  March 30, 2014
Australia, Health, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Letter to the AMA re its recent paper concerning wind turbines

Author:  Waite, Geoffrey

I am a retired psychologist and was a member of both the Clinical and Counselling Colleges of the Australian Psychological Society when they were active. I have been in private practice for over 25 years as well as being the principal psychologist in a large rural hospital for five years.

Recently I visited some areas of rural South Australia and Victoria and spoke with quite a number of people who claimed to be adversely affected by the operation of industrial wind turbines in their vicinity. I queried if 100% of them could be affected by this new “nocebo effect” when its opposite – the placebo effect, was usually apparent in only 30% of experimental subjects. Unfortunately there is no reputable research supporting this “nocebo effect” so it must remain a guess.

Naturally as a psychologist (retired) I was interested in the deeper story than the widely reported symptoms I was hearing about. I was greatly disturbed when I was unable to find any other cause for their suffering than the turbines. So I did some research. What became obvious was the following:

  1. Wind turbines make noise.
  2. Noise affects people.
  3. Some noise makes people happy and healthy, some noise makes people depressed and sick.

More detailed research provided some more information behind the above statements:

1. Wind turbines make noise.

Rick James, in a paper by Alec N. Salt 2010, provides graphs of recordings titled Industrial Wind Turbines Generate Infrasound (http://oto2.wustl.edu/cochlea/wt1.html). These clearly illustrate the sound generated by wind turbines, both those sounds people can hear (e.g. blade passes) and those they can not (called infrasound).

wind-turbine-infrasound

http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/2013/acoustician-explains-wind-turbine-infrasound-low-frequency-noise-rick-james

2. Noise affects people.

The noise people can hear is obvious and affects people, some to their advantage and some to their disadvantage

The noise people can not hear is less obvious. Some is benign and some sickening.

It has been said that if a person can not hear something it can’t affect them. This is untrue. It is also untrue of the other senses – Infra red and ultraviolet light can not be seen but one burns your eyes and the other burns your skin: some poisons can not be tasted but can still kill you – e.g. tetrodotoxin (puffer fish poison), salmonella and cholera toxin: carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide can not be smelled but can kill a person.

Again noise people can hear has obvious affects – fingernails scratching a black board, a beautiful symphony, the deep beat of a rock band, the scream of a jet fighter, the brakes of a truck and so on.

www.windturbinesyndrome.com/2013

Sound that most people can not hear is either too highly pitched (high frequency) or too low (lower frequency than 20 Hz).

There is lots of anecdotal evidence that some infrasound, sound you normally don’t hear, makes you sick. Here are some of the health problems reported:

SYMPTOM/PROBLEM LIST:

1. Acute Vestibular Dysfunction/Disorder (first 12 also listed by Affadavit of Dr Owen Black, MD, May 2009, De Kalb County, Illinois) to the recent Australian Senate enquiry.

2. Acute Sympathetic Nervous System Stimulation

The following three conditions are rare, but important to mention.

3. Chronic Sleep Disturbance and Its Consequences

4. Known Clinical Consequences of Repetitive Sleep Disturbance/Deprivation

5. Combined Stress (Psychological and Physiological) and Its Consequences

6. Tissue Damage

The items below have been reported to from Germany in residents exposed for over 10 years:

The pathology is identical to that described in workers and others studied by the Portuguese researchers who first described VAD or vibroacoustic disease, (see www.wind-watch.org/documents/vibroacoustic- disease-biological-effects-of-infrasound-and-low-frequency-noise-explained-by-mechanotransduction-cellular-signalling/) now being diagnosed in others including most recently Taiwanese aviation workers (Chao et al, docs.wind-watch.org/chao.html).

Finally, there are growing concerns about the potential for foetal abnormalities with increasing exposures to larger wind turbines and therefore more ILFN and V. These foetal abnormalities are being reported by some farmers in their stock (cattle, sheep) at rates which are noticeably increased for them since wind turbines commenced operating. The farmers who disclosed this keep accurate records of their stock numbers and problems, and were clear in their reports. The aetiological agent is not clear, and no one is systematically collecting this data, as with human health.

There is research evidence indicating concerns about the impact of vibration on embryos (referred to previously). Vibration is being reported by some of the residents, living near wind turbines and living near coal mines in the Upper Hunter. The vibration from wind turbines is also reported by institutions with seismic arrays, which are part ofa worldwide network to detect nuclear explosions. The characteristic acoustic signature is being detected significant distances away from such institutions in Scotland and Germany. Links to those pieces of research are at: www.wind-watch.org/documents/inaudible-noise-of-wind-turbines/, www.wind-watch.org/documents/microseismic-and-infrasound-monitoring-of-low-frequency-noise-and-vibrations-from-windfarms/, and there is research done in New Zealand by Dr Bob Thorne and colleagues measuring seismic energy from larger 3MW V90 Vestas wind turbines reported to be disturbing residents, at www.wind-watch.org/documents/seismic-effect-on-residents-from-3-mw-wind-turbines/.

The long-term impact of chronic exposure to such low “dose” of vibration is unknown. It is my impression, however, that where a resident is reporting the perception of vibration, the resident’s health appears to be negatively impacted more rapidly, even when compared to others living in the same home.

All of the above problems listed have the characteristic pattern of improving partially or completely when the turbines are off, or when the residents are away from their homes. Some residents also report subsequently being affected by other sources of ILFN, such as when flying, or when exposed to LFN from heating and cooling (air conditioning) compressors, which is to be expected, as they have become “sensitized” to LFN. This phenomena of “sensitization” was noted by Professor Leventhall in 2003, where he also made it clear that if people moved away from the sources of the LFN their condition improved. What is being observed is that many sick people who do not or cannot move away, deteriorate with cumulative exposure.

Useful sources:

1. Letter to Professor Chapman, www.wind-watch.org/documents/letter-from-sarah-laurie-to-simon-chapman/

2. Table on page 49 of Leventhall DEFRA Literature Review 2003 (reproduced from www.wind-watch.org/documents/review-of-published-research-on-low-frequency-noise-and-its-effects/)

3. Leventhall et al, DEFRA Literature Review, 2003, www.wind-watch.org/documents/review-of-published-research-on-low-frequency-noise-and-its-effects/

4. NIEHS Literature Review, 2001 (www.wind-watch.org/documents/infrasound-brief-review-of-toxicological-literature/)

5. Capuccio, F et al, “Sleep Duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: a systemic review and meta-
analysis of prospective studies” European Heart Journal (2011) 32, 1484-1492

6. McEwen, B, “Protective and Damaging Effects of Stress Mediators” New England Journal of Medicine, 1998, 338 171 – 179

7. Shannon et al, October 1994, “Effect of Vibration and Frequency Amplitude on developing chicken
Embryos” US Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, Fort Rucker, Alabama

8. Alves Pereira et al, 2007, www.wind-watch.org/documents/vibroacoustic-disease-biological-effects-of-infrasound-and-low-frequency-noise-explained-by-mechanotransduction-cellular-signalling/

Does this fit with biology and neurology?

The vestibular system in the brain does more than just allow us to stand upright, maintain balance and move through space. It coordinates information from the vestibular organs in the inner ear, the eyes, muscles and joints, fingertips and palms of the hands, pressors on the soles of the feet, jaw, and gravity receptors on the skin and adjusts heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tone, limb position, immune responses, arousal and balance. The auditory system is also highly involved in vestibular functions. The vestibular and auditory nerves join in the auditory canal and become the eighth cranial nerve of the brain. Anything that disrupts auditory information can also affect vestibular functioning.

Dr. Alec Salt and his team at the Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA, including Stephen E. Ambrose, INCE (Brd. Cert.) Robert W. Rand, INCE Member, have conducted extensive research into vestibular response to sound pressure pulsations. (Salt, A., http://oto2.wustl.edu/cochlea/wt7.html. Stephen E. Ambrose, INCE (Brd. Cert.)) Their research shows that the ear responds to sound we cannot hear.

There are two types of hair cells in the cochlea, the inner hair cells (IHCs) and the outer hair cells (OHCs). The IHCs are fluid-connected and velocity-sensitive, responding to minute changes in the acoustic pressure variations based on frequency, with sensitivity decreasing at a rate of -6 dB per downward octave. IHCs detect audible sounds and they are insensitive to low frequency and infrasonic acoustic energy. In contrast, the OHCs are motor as well as sensory cells.

OHCs are found only in mammals. OHCs are mechanically connected, responding to small changes in displacement, with a more uniform sensitivity across the acoustic frequency spectrum. OHCs respond to and contract with infrasonic stimulus and then act to reduce vibration stimulus at the IHCs. Thus there are actually two specialized receptors, or transducers, in each ear. Furthermore this research has highlighted the importance of the vestibular system, in particular regarding low frequency (and what is generally termed ‘infrasound’). The fact that air exists within the human body including, the sinuses, the Eustachian tube and the lungs, demonstrates that the potential avenues for acoustic energy to impact on the body clearly extends beyond the ear canal. Very low frequencies, the ‘booming bass’ at rock concerts, is certainly perceived, that is felt, in the body proper. Blood gravisensors and proprioception mechanisms clearly signal the brain that acoustic vibrations are being perceived. Indeed, this is one of the main ‘attractions’ of such loud music venues. The physiological and cognitive effects of this are less clearly demonstrable.

However, Dr. Carey D. Balaban, Ph.D., Professor of Otolaryngology, Biological Sciences, Neurological Surgery at the University of Chicago, has as his primary research goal to develop a rational basis for understanding the neurobiology of the vestibular system so that new therapies for vestibular disorders can be designed. This goal is approached by: (1) identifying the organization of central vestibular circuits that mediate autonomic and somatic motor responses to vestibular stimulation; (2) identifying neurotransmitters and intracellular signal transduction proteins that are important in these brain circuits; (3) examining the role of these biochemical constituents in responses to challenges from toxins and mechanical (blast) injury; and (4) identifying contributions of these mechanisms to the clinical linkage among balance disorders, anxiety disorders (panic with agoraphobia) and migrainous vertigo. More details about how these goals were achieved by addressing the research identifications and examinations in (1) to (4) above can be found at Expert Rev Neurother. 2011 March; 11(3): 379–394. doi:10.1586/ern.11.19. These studies have a strong translational component through interactions with Drs. Joseph Furman, Rolf Jacob, Dawn Marcus, Susan Whitney, John Durrant and Mark Redfern.

The studies conclude that over the previous 20 years, clinical observations and basic research have provided evidence that the prevalent comorbidity of balance disorders, motion sickness, migraine and anxiety disorders is not a chance occurrence. Many comorbid combinations have been reported. Balance disorders (both neuro-otologic disease and chronic subjective dizziness) are often comorbid with psychiatric disorders [1–5] and with migraine [6–8]. Migraine is often associated with vertigo [10–12]. The increased motion sickness susceptibility in migraineurs [8,13–15] is attenuated by tryptan treatment [16,17]. Migraine is also associated with phobic disorders and panic disorder [9]. Migraine and balance disorders are comorbid with anxiety disorders [6,7]. We suggest that three mechanisms may contribute to the comorbidity and overlap in treatment regimens. First, the parallel patterns of serotonin, TRPV1 and purinergic receptor expression in trigeminal, vestibular and spiral ganglion cells are consistent with parallel therapeutic effects at the level of primary afferents. Second, parallel behavior of protein extravasation in inner ear, meningeal and peripheral tissues and activation of central trigeminal and vestibular pathways may contribute to comorbid migraine, vestibular disorders and hyperacusis or tinnitus. Since these migraine and audio vestibular symptoms share common peripheral mechanisms, they are expected to respond in parallel to treatment that reduces extravasation. Finally, the parallel organization of vestibular and nociceptive pathways through the parabrachial nucleus and thalamus to the amygdala and cerebral cortex is consistent with a common central representation of interoceptive well-being, which influences control of affect. The clinical picture that emerges is a balance disorder–migraine–anxiety syndrome that can manifest differentially in different patients, with comorbid components that can respond to similar treatment regimens. References numbered above are as follows:

1. Furman JM, Jacob RG. A clinical taxonomy of dizziness and anxiety in the otoneurologic setting. J Anxiety Disord. 2001; 15:9–26. [PubMed: 11388360]

2. Jacob, RG.; Furman, JM.; Balaban, CD. Psychiatric aspects of vestibular disorders. In: Baloh, RW.; Halmagyi, GM., editors. Handbook of Neurotology/Vestibular System. Oxford University Press; Oxford, UK: 1996. p. 509-528.

3. Staab JP. Chronic dizziness: the interface between psychiatry and neuro-otology. Curr Opin Neurol. 2006; 19(1):41–48. [PubMed: 16415676]

4. Staab JP, Ruckenstein MJ. Chronic dizziness and anxiety: effect of course of illness on treatment outcome. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2005; 131(8):675–679. [PubMed: 16103297]

5. Staab JP, Ruckenstein MJ. Expanding the differential diagnosis of chronic dizziness. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2007; 133:170–176. [PubMed: 17309987]

6. Furman JM, Balaban CD, Jacob RG, Marcus DA. Migraine-anxiety associated dizziness (MARD): a new disorder? J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2005; 76:1–8. [PubMed: 15607984]

7. Furman JM, Marcus DA, Balaban CD. Migrainous vertigo: development of a pathogenetic model and structured diagnostic interview. Curr Opin Neurology. 2003; 16:5–13.

8. Marcus DA, Furman JM, Balaban CD. Motion sickness in migraine sufferers. Expert Opin Pharmacotherapy. 2005; 6(15):2691–2697.

9. Radat F, Swendsen J. Psychiatric morbidity in migraine: a review. Cephalagia. 2004; 25:165–178.

10. Cutrer FM, Baloh RW. Migraine-associated dizziness. Headache. 1992; 32:300–304. [PubMed: 1399552]

11. Neuhauser H, Leopold M, von Brevern M, Arnold G, Lempert T. The interrelations of migraine, vertigo, and migrainous vertigo. Neurology. 2001; 56(4):436–441. Provides the seminal clinical description of migrainous vertigo. [PubMed: 11222783]

12. Lempert T, Neuhauser H. Epidemiology of vertigo, migraine and vestibular migraine. J Neurol. 2009; 256:333–338. [PubMed: 19225823]

13. Drummond PD. Motion sickness and migraine: optokinetic stimulation increases scalp tenderness, pain sensitivity in the fingers and photophobia. Cephalagia. 2002; 22:117–124.

14. Drummond PD. Triggers of motion sickness in migraine sufferers. Headache. 2005; 45(6):653– 656. [PubMed: 15953297]

15. Drummond PD, Granston A. Facial pain increases nausea and headache during motion sickness in migraine sufferers. Brain. 2004; 127(3):526–534. [PubMed: 14749288]

16. Furman JM, Marcus DA. A pilot study of rizatriptan and visually-induced motion sickness in migraineurs. Int J Med Sci. 2009; 6:212–217. [PubMed: 19680473]

17. Furman JM, Marcus DA, Balaban CD. Rizatriptan reduces vestibular-induced motion sickness in migraineurs. J Headache Pain. 2010 (Epub ahead of print). 10.1007/s10194-010-0250-z

So to paraphrase:

  1. Primary afferent activation runs from trigeminal, vestibular and spiral ganglion cells.
  2. Second, parallel behavior of protein extravasation in inner ear, meningeal and peripheral tissues and activation of central trigeminal and vestibular pathways may contribute to comorbid migraine, vestibular disorders and hyperacusis or tinnitus.
  3. Finally, the parallel organization of vestibular and nociceptive pathways through the parabrachial nucleus and thalamus to the amygdala and cerebral cortex is consistent with… the clinical picture that emerges (as) a balance disorder–migraine–anxiety syndrome.

What is also well known from the trauma literature is that the amygdala is the primary site of warning to the brain oftentimes bringing on extreme fear, flight or fight reactions, panic and high level anxiety, and affects the thalamus to assist in reaction to threat.

Ellert R.S. Nijenhuis writes that there is evidence that the adult brain may regress to an infantile state when it is confronted with severe stress (Jacobs and Nadel, 1985, Le Doux, 1996). As Le Doux argues, the amygdala is essentially involved in very rapidly and automatically instigated physiological and behavioral responses to a major threat, as well as the classical conditioning of these threat responses. This conditioning yields probably indelible associations between unconditioned and conditioned stimuli. Extreme stress does not interfere with, and may amplify, memory processes mediated by the amygdala (Corodimas, LeDoux, Gold and Schulkin, 1994) [even if the threat comes from an infrasound stimulated Vestibular system], but it does hamper hippocampal-neocortical information processing which should inhibit or regulate emotional reactions and memories [turbine affected people may not have access to information they have been told about the bad effects of turbines – which mitigates against any so-called ‘nocebo effect’]. Chronic release of stress hormones may even damage the hippocampus. This stress-induced condition resembles the infantile state, which is characterized by functioning amygdala and a relatively immature hippocampal-neocortical system. Extreme stress may therefore evoke defensive reactions in adults which are also evoked in young children.(This text is in Ellert R.S. Nijenhuis, Somatoform Dissociation, page 117, 2004, W.W. Norton and Company, New York, as are the quoted references). It is easy to see why people exposed to a toxic stimulation of the vestibular system wake from sleep in terror.

Wind turbines make noise.

Noise affects people.

The noise you can and cannot hear from wind turbines makes you sick and sometimes very sick.

Geoffrey Waite
March 30, 2014

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Date added:  March 18, 2014
Australia, Health, OntarioPrint storyE-mail story

Adverse Health Effects and Industrial Wind Energy Facilities

Author:  Krogh, Carmen

To:  Dr Steve Hambleton, President, Australian Medical Association

I am aware of the Australian Medical Association position (2014) regarding risk of health associated with industrial wind turbines. As background, I am an independent, full time volunteer and published researcher regarding health effects and industrial wind energy facilities and share information with communities, individuals, authorities, wind energy developers, the industry and others.

I am a co-author of three articles, one a review, published in Canadian rural medical journals, Can J Rural Med 2014;19(1):21-26; Can Fam Physician 2013;59:473-475 (Commentary); and Can Fam Physician 2013;59:921-925 (Letters/Correspondence). These are cited in PubMed and are attached for your information.

I am taking the opportunity to share the experiences regarding the negative effects which can occur when industrial wind energy facilities are sited in close proximity to family homes and sensitive environments; and to provide some of the peer reviewed and other evidence regarding this topic.

Personal disclosure: I declare no potential conflicts of interest and have received no financial support with respect to the research and authorship of this overview. This commentary is public and may be shared.

I have made a number of submissions to both provincial and federal authorities in Canada and shared information internationally. An example is one sent to the Minister of Health, Health Canada regarding risks to children. This is public and may be shared.

This is a complex and challenging topic. The many variables associated with wind energy facilities such as siting design and proximity, wind direction and speed, terrain, house construction, a variety of noise emissions, and electrical pollution to name a few, can affect the assortment and description of symptoms being reported.

To assist with this topic, I have provided some examples of comments received from Canadians reporting adverse health issues in the attached Adverse Health Effects and Industrial Wind Energy Facilities March 18 2014.

Of concern is that some report they are hesitant to elaborate on the degradation in their quality of life, the significant changes to their living environment, the negative changes in their health status, and the social-economic impacts. This reluctance could deprive the family physician of information relating to disruptive noise levels, vibration, pulsation and other and the associated symptoms.

These comments could have significant ramifications, as in some cases the family physician may not be receiving all the facts, which could hamper or misdirect the clinical investigation. …

The World Health Organization states with respect to noise in general:

“In all cases, noise should be reduced to the lowest level achievable in a particular
situation. 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.” [World Health Organization. Guidelines for community noise. Geneva; OMS, 1999, p 94. Berglund, B., Lindvall, T., and Schwela, D. H.]

The Policy Interpretation Network on Children’s Health and Environment advises:

“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]

I trust the information provided will be helpful and given consideration by the AMA and if I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours truly,

Carmen Krogh, BScPharm
Ontario, Canada

March 18, 2014

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Date added:  March 18, 2014
Australia, HealthPrint storyE-mail story

Open Letter to AMA on Position Statement: Wind Farms & Health 2014

Author:  Laurie, Sarah

Dear Australian Medical Association Federal Office Bearers,

As I have not received a response to a detailed email sent to the AMA President and the Vice President 4 days ago concerning the AMA’s position statement on wind “farms” and health, this is an open letter to you all.

This matter is of considerable and increasing national and international interest, especially to rural residents whose health has been severely adversely impacted by existing wind turbine developments, some of whom have been forced from their homes because of the serious adverse health impacts on themselves and their families.

Do Federal AMA members realize that there are no studies showing there are no adverse health effects on a local population after installation of a wind development, and there are no longitudinal studies which show there are still no adverse health effects after 25 years?

In other words, product safety has NOT been established, despite industry assertions to the contrary.

Rather, a literature review conducted by two public health physicians in Rural Ontario, Drs Lynn and Arra, found that all the studies they identified showed evidence of what they called “human distress”. A powerpoint of their literature review findings is available here: http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/association-between-wind-turbine-noise-and-human-distress/ and some of those studies were also included in the recent NHMRC Literature Review.

Please give these issues your urgent attention and provide detailed answers to the following questions. Your answers will be made publicly available.

Content of the public statement

Where is the research, conducted inside the homes of the residents reporting the serious repetitive sleep disturbance, the physiological stress, and other symptoms of “wind turbine syndrome”, which confirms that these symptoms are caused by anxiety from alleged scaremongering as your AMA position statement asserts, RATHER than pulsatile infrasound and low frequency noise from wind turbines, which Dr Neil Kelley and his NASA research colleagues established was the DIRECT cause of these “annoyance” symptoms in 1985 in a major US government funded research project in the USA?

This pattern of symptoms of so called “annoyance” reported by residents today is identical to that documented so carefully some 30 years ago by Dr Neil Kelley, in a large collaborative NASA and aeronautical engineering acoustic field survey in the USA, followed by a laboratory study, funded by the US Department of Energy. If members of the AMA Federal Council are not familiar with those landmark studies which have been known to the wind energy industry since 1987, details are available from the following document (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/2013/explicit-warning-notice/).

Are you suggesting that Kelley and NASA were wrong? Given the way the global wind industry reacted to change the design of the turbines from downwind bladed to upwind bladed to reduce these health and sleep damaging frequencies, it is clear that industry believed this research was important and credible.

There is no research demonstrating that the reported health effects in residents living near wind turbines are due to anxiety caused by “scaremongering”, and this was acknowledged in the recent NHMRC literature review. The only misinformation being peddled is by the wind industry, and now by your organization’s position statement.

Why have you repeated the lies of the wind industry that the levels of infrasound inside and outside homes are well below the thresholds of perception? Kelley et al established in 1985 that wind turbine generated impulsive infrasound and low frequency noise could be perceived at levels where it was not audible. The design of the turbine is immaterial to this human perception response – the frequencies generated by horizontal axis wind turbines, downwind or upwind bladed, are still being perceived by the human guinea pigs inside and outside their homes, nearly 30 years later.

This ability to perceive infrasound pressure pulses or peaks is precisely what independent Australian acoustician Les Huson detected in his acoustic field research at Macarthur in 2013, with resident Andrew Gardner who was experiencing distressing “pressure bolt sensations” whilst sitting peacefully inside his home at night, which correlated remarkably well 86% of the time with the pressure peak transients Mr Huson’s monitor was detecting, to which Mr Gardner was “blinded” at the time he was recording his symptoms. I am sure both Mr Huson and Mr Gardner would be more than happy to directly educate members of the Federal AMA on those findings (see http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/gardner-statement-vcat-cherry-tree-hearing/ and http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/huson-l-expert-evidence-at-vcat-cherry-tree-hearing/).

The design of the wind turbines was changed from being downwind bladed to upwind bladed “modern” wind turbines where the nacelle automatically turns around to face into the wind, to try and reduce the generation of those frequencies because of the damage to sleep and health. The frequencies were reduced, but they were not eliminated, and as wind turbines have become larger, the frequencies generated have shifted down to the lower part of the sound spectrum, predictably causing more “annoyance” symptoms for the neighbours. (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/moller-pedersen-low-frequency-noise-from-large-wind-turbines/)

Around the same time as the designs of wind turbines changed so dramatically, the wind industry acousticians persuaded the various government noise pollution regulatory authorities NOT to measure the VERY sound frequencies which Kelley et al had established directly caused the symptoms. The frequencies were still being generated – they just were not being measured. The same continues today.

Do any of you realize that the wind changes direction constantly? As the wind changes, the turbine nacelles turn to face into the wind, so people are not always “downwind” or “upwind” of the turbines as your poorly worded statement seems to suggest. People’s symptoms change according to wind strength, direction and weather conditions, which if any of you had bothered to go and listen to affected people or independent acousticians directly, you would have soon found out.

Indeed if any of you or the authors of your position statement had bothered to listen to rural residents impacted adversely by wind turbine noise, you would find that many rural residents can predict on the basis of the wind direction what their symptoms are likely to be and how severe they are likely to be, based on their own unique pattern of symptoms. If people do develop serious symptoms predictably with specific wind directions and weather conditions, they plan their lives around the weather and wind direction – for example leaving if the wind is predicted to be from the north, or the west, because they know that for them their home or workplace will be unliveable and unworkable under those conditions.

How do you think these families are managing to run their farms if they cannot be there?? The answer is that they cannot, and their livelihoods and family lives suffer significantly as a result.

Some “common sense” might help

Do any of you seriously think that tough resilient farming families who cope with drought, fires and floods, will leave their homes and their farms repeatedly and eventually permanently because they have been brainwashed by “scaremongering”?

Do you think wind turbine hosts and their families who financially benefit but also get the same predictable symptoms have also been similarly brainwashed?

What about the babies’ distressed behaviour crying and pulling at their ears when they don’t actually have ear infections, but which is directly correlating to wind turbine noise exposure? Scaremongering perhaps?

What about the dogs – working and family pets whose behaviour and health are noticeably affected? Scaremongering too?

What about the decreased weight gain and observed increased agitation in the cattle reported by long term cattle producer John Carter, at Crookwell. A nocebo effect from the Waubra Foundation perhaps? Really? Some of these reports are from 10 years ago – 6 years before the Foundation was formed. Do you think perhaps that there is a retrospective nocebo effect operating? John is a senior member of the Beef Producers fraternity in Australia and an astute observer and diligent recorder of his cattle’s condition and behaviour. He’s been farming all his life… and his family for four generations before him.

What about the peer reviewed published study in 2013 about the Polish geese who showed increased blood cortisol and decreased weight gain in a dose response relationship in a study by Polish veterinary and acoustics researchers? Do you consider this to be hard objective evidence of a physiological stress response, or brainwashing??? (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/mikolajczak-j-et-al-preliminary-studies-growing-geese-proximity-wind-turbines/)

How come those 23 Texan wind turbine hosts are suing the wind developer for noise nuisance, if money protects them, as has been asserted by wind energy advocates?? (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/2014/23-texas-wind-farm-hosts-sue-over-noise-and-nuisance/)

How come wind turbine hosts David and Alida Mortimer have to regularly leave their home in order to obtain relief from the wind turbine syndrome symptoms they experience at their home near Millicent in South Australia? Scaremongering too? http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/david-mortimers-statement-cherry-tree-hearing-at-vcat-jan-2013/

AMA Position Statement on Wind “Farms” and Health

Who wrote this AMA position statement?

Why is their authorship not explicitly disclosed?

What is their expertise in acoustics and sound and vibration related health impacts?

What are their conflicts of interest?

Have they ever treated anyone severely affected by wind turbine noise?

Have they ever treated anyone affected by another source of impulsive infrasound, low frequency noise and vibration such as from coal mining, CSG field compressors, gas fired power stations or other large compressors such as refrigeration units or heating ventilation systems?

Have they ever spoken to any health practitioners who have known clinical expertise in this area in Australia? If so, with whom did they communicate?

Have they ever spoken to any independent acoustics researchers, neurophysiologists, or health practitioners with either direct clinical experience or research experience in this area either in Australia or internationally?

If so, with whom did they communicate?

Have they ever spoken directly with any residents reporting the adverse health impacts which directly correlate with exposure to operating wind turbines?

Have they or their extended family ever lived near an industrial wind turbine development for any length of time?

Has any member of the AMA Federal Council had any experience mentioned in the above questions?

It would be usual in a document such as this to cite your source material and any conflicts of interest. Could you please advise the following:

Allegations about unprofessional and unethical behaviour by some health practitioners

Does the AMA consider that it is appropriate for medical practitioners with a financial interest in a community wind development (Hepburn Wind) to exert significant pressure (successfully) to stop the provision of clinical and acoustic information to other medical practitioners, some of whom had specifically asked for that information? This is precisely what happened in Ballarat, when one of the local specialists and myself were going to speak at a function under the auspices of the Ballarat Division of General Practice.

Does the exercise of such a blatant conflict of interest concern any of the members of the Federal Council of the AMA?

That particular “community” wind development resulted in a hardworking and respected medical colleague and her family being forced to leave their new home because of the serious adverse health impacts resulting from the infrasound and low frequency noise which amplified within her home, which included repetitive and severe sleep disruption, particularly bad when the wind was blowing towards the home. The wind developer has not ever provided the data required by the independent acoustician to determine compliance. Do AMA Federal Councilors consider that acceptable and responsible and transparent corporate behaviour by Hepburn Wind towards a medical colleague, who needs sleep in order to carry out her professional duties without putting her patients at risk because of impaired sleep?

Does the AMA consider that sleep deprivation from wind turbine noise pollution should be treated differently to any other cause of sleep deprivation; or source of noise, specifically does the AMA consider that this problem should remain ignored, denied, ridiculed and unaddressed by the wind developers, health authorities and noise pollution regulatory authorities with no accountability for the noise pollution?

One of the medical practitioners with a financial conflict of interest in the Hepburn “community” wind development was reported to me by one of his patients to have told that patient that he would just have to “get used to it”. This patient had presented with significant mental health distress which was subsequently life threatening. Does the AMA consider that this is ethical or appropriate behaviour on the part of this medical practitioner, and that it adequately fulfils the duty of care owed by medical practitioners to their patients?

Does the AMA consider that it is appropriate for medical practitioners who advise their patients to leave their homes because of the severity of their symptoms to then refuse to put such advice in writing? I have been told this is happening by residents living in rural South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales who have been badly affected by wind turbine sound and vibration, some of whom have indeed subsequently followed their doctors advice and left their homes. Some of these people are now effectively homeless. Those providing the advice included local general practitioners, and specialists including cardiologists, endocrinologists, and ear nose and throat specialists.

Why do AMA office holders think these medical practitioners might be so reluctant to put such advice in writing?

Do AMA Federal Office bearers think it might have something to do with the way the wind industry and its friends and supporters in public health and the media treat health practitioners and rural residents who advocate for research, or who try to bring these problems to the attention of the health and noise pollution regulatory authorities?

Corporate practices which damage health and silence people

Does the AMA consider that it is appropriate for a wind developer to send letters to all the medical practices within a couple of hundred kilometers of a large wind turbine development, suggesting the medical practitioners refer their patients to that company’s “community engagement team”, and that there is “no evidence” of adverse health effects, when it is clear this particular wind developer is well aware from other wind developments they also operate that people are severely sleep deprived from wind turbine noise? Senator John Madigan’s speech in the Federal Senate last night outlining the corporate behaviour of AGL on this matter is something each of the Federal Members of the AMA need to read, view, and reflect upon. (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/senator-john-madigan-speech/)

Does the AMA consider that there are analogies with a cigarette manufacturer denying any health problems to medical practitioners treating people with diseases resulting from cigarette exposure? What about companies who used asbestos in their building products? Both of these sorts of companies also denied the known adverse health effects of their products for many years, in some instances aided by medical practitioners and public health experts. Professor Simon Chapman has detailed the techniques used by cigarette manufacturers to deny what they knew, and journalist Matt Peacock detailed some of the history behind the James Hardie Asbestos scandal, and the involvement of health professionals.

Does the AMA condemn the use of silencing agreements, which are designed specifically to prevent sick people and their families from speaking about the adverse health impacts, which they have experienced with industrial infrasound and low frequency noise pollution? Such agreements have been used at Tara in Queensland (CSG compressor noise) in the Upper Hunter near Wollar (coal mining noise and vibration), in NSW (Uranquinty, gas fired power station noise) and Toora and Waubra (wind turbine noise). Some agreements also bind some wind turbine hosts, whose children may be seriously adversely impacted.

Does the AMA condone a situation where parents are unable to protect their children by complaining to the noise pollution regulatory authorities because of the terms of their agreement with a noise polluter, when that contract was signed with the noise polluter denying any noise or adverse health effects? Such silencing agreements were detailed by Senator Chris Back in Federal Parliament in October 2012 (see http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/senator-back-reveals-gag-clauses-wind-developer-contracts/)

Since then “good neighbour” silencing agreements have been used in South Australia by Trustpower. This is what some politicians and wind developers and their supporters euphemistically call “consulting with the community” or “spreading the benefits of community wind projects” but in effect it is silencing people from speaking out in future about adverse impacts they and their children may experience, and it binds them or subsequent property owners for the next 60 years, sometimes even with caveats placed by the wind developer on their land. (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/neighbour-deed-palmer-wind-farm-south-australia/)

Does the AMA approve of such agreements to silence sick people? Whether they are silencing wind turbine hosts, neighbours, or children? Is any of this acceptable?

Acknowledgement of health problems resulting from infrasound and low frequency noise

Does the AMA deny the clinical and research evidence of a disease which has been called “vibroacoustic disease” by the researchers investigating it, which has been described in the research literature for 30 years, and which results from chronic exposure to infrasound, low frequency noise and vibration? Some of that research is listed on our website (see for example http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/vibroacoustic-disease-biological-effects-infrasound-alves-periera-castelo-branco/ and http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/alves-pereira-m-castelo-branco-n-scientific-arguments-against-vibroacoustic-disease/)

Does the AMA deny the existence of a recent superior court judgment in Portugal, which ordered wind turbines to be pulled down because of objective clinical evidence of vibroacoustic disease in wind turbine neighbours? (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/low-frequency-noise-presentation/)

Does the AMA deny the Taiwanese research evidence in aviation workers confirming that vibroacoustic disease is not just a “Portuguese disease” as Australian sociologist and ardent wind turbine industry advocate Professor Simon Chapman has asserted? (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/effect-low-frequency-noise-echocardiographic-parameter-ea-ratio-chao-et-al-2/)

Does the AMA deny the evidence of Vibro acoustic disease in a military context, something which was detailed at length by Colonel (Dr) Nuno Castelo Branco, the Portuguese Pathologist who has conducted most of the groundbreaking research in this area? (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/castelo-branco-n-low-frequency-noise-major-risk-factor-military-operations/)

Does the AMA deny there are clinical and acoustic adverse health event reports and research evidence of the constellation of specific symptoms which have now been described as occurring in wind turbine neighbours by rural general practitioners, paediatricians, ear nose and throat physicians, public health physicians, occupational physicians, and otoneurologists as well as acousticians in the United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, and Australia? Just some of that material is listed below:

Does the AMA deny that an increasing number of these researchers and clinicians are calling these symptoms “wind turbine syndrome” when they occur in conjunction with exposure to operating wind turbines?

Does the AMA deny that some acousticians working with the wind industry have admitted under oath in court cases that for many years these symptoms have been known to occur in people exposed to infrasound and low frequency noise? Professor Geoffrey Leventhall, a consultant acoustician frequently used by the wind industry has conceded this.

Professor Leventhall was an undisclosed peer reviewer of the first NHMRC literature review in 2010. The other was Professor Simon Chapman. Subsequent issues about conflicts of interests and the way they have been “managed” by the NHMRC re-emerged with the second NHMRC Literature Review during recent Senate Estimates. (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/nhmrc-ceo-prof-anderson-questioned-about-draft-review-by-senate/)

Does the AMA deny the clinical evidence of serious harm to mental and physical health of wind turbine neighbours resulting from exposure to operating wind turbines, which resulted in the court judgment in Falmouth USA where a judge has ordered wind turbines to be turned off at night in order to prevent “irreparable harm” to physical and psychological health? Justice Muse’s judgment is here: http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/us-judge-rules-wind-turbine-neighbours-suffer-irreparable-harm/

Research

Does the AMA support the research recommended now by many interested parties including the NHMRC, the Federal Senate Inquiry in 2011, which was chaired by Green Senator Rachel Siewert, the Federal House of Representatives in 2012 (Moylan motion) acousticians who consult with the wind industry internationally (Hessler, Schomer and Walker) as well as the Prime Minister, the Federal Health Minister and the Assistant Minister for Health?

Does the AMA support research which will measure the full spectrum of acoustic frequencies inside the affected residents’ homes, concurrently with the collection of physiological objective data such as sleep (EEG), blood pressure, heart rate and serial cortisol measurements?

This research will soon determine whether or not the symptoms are indeed caused by alleged anxiety spread by “scaremongering” as your AMA statement states so confidently, despite a complete lack of ANY evidence collected specifically from residents reporting the symptoms near wind turbines. Such research will also validate and clarify dose response relationships established nearly thirty years ago by Dr Neil Kelley’s research.

Does the AMA agree that this independent research MUST be conducted by individuals who are completely independent of the industrial wind industry?

Does the AMA agree that such research should also be conducted inside the homes of those affected by other sources of industrial infrasound and low frequency noise pollution, such as CSG field compressors, coal mines, and gas fired power stations, and that the research results including particularly the full spectrum acoustic measurements must be made publicly available?

Improved regulation and governance to protect health

Does the AMA support the WHO recommendations that a limit of 30 dBA is required inside bedrooms in order for people to sleep?

Does the AMA support the immediate implementation of the only evidence based noise exposure limits for chronic infrasound and low frequency noise exposure which were established by Dr Neil Kelley’s team research in 1985, until improved evidence based guidelines can be determined from the recommended multidisciplinary research?

Does the AMA support the transparent real time wind turbine noise monitoring suggested by Senators Xenophon and Madigan and supported by the current Federal Government, but extend it to including infrasound and low frequency noise so there is transparency about what the exposures to the different sound frequencies are, both inside and outside homes? Remember, these are the frequencies that are deliberately not being measured currently despite being shown by Kelley et al in 1985 to directly cause the symptoms wind turbine residents were reporting, including repetitive sleep disturbance.

Does the AMA support an independent audit of all existing wind developments by a suitably qualified engineer to verify that the individual turbine separation distances comply with the wind turbine manufacturer’s specifications? By way of explanation, a failure to build turbines with adequate distances apart from each other will lead to increased turbulence, increased wind turbine audible noise, and increased infrasound generated, as well as increased risk of catastrophic blade failure because of increased wear and tear on the blades.

Wind industry connections with the AMA, and other health lobby groups

Did the wind industry have any involvement in providing material for or writing parts of this statement?

Did the Clean Energy Council, (the Australian Wind Industry lobby group) assist the AMA in any way in writing this statement or providing information?

Which, if any, acoustic consultants assisted the AMA with technical acoustic advice? What declarations were made about conflicts of interest?

Has the AMA, any of its elected officers or staff, any direct or indirect financial connections with or shares in companies which are wind developers, or any family members who have such connections with the wind industry? Has this information been publicly disclosed anywhere on the AMA website?

Does the AMA realize that the Climate and Health Alliance helped VESTAS, a product manufacturer launch their global denial of any harm from their products, despite one of their acoustic engineers clearly stating some of the known problems in 2004 at an Australian Wind Energy Association conference? (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/2014/public-statement-home-abandonment-due-environmental-noise-pollution/)

What does the AMA Federal Council think about this clear conflict of interest? Is the analogy to Big Tobacco using a health lobby group to launch their global denial of adverse health effects from cigarette smoking a fair one?

Does the AMA realize that the Australian Wind Energy Association became the Clean Energy Council, and that it is an industry lobby group?

Does the AMA know that the Public Health Association of Australia have been advised of misleading statements on its website about wind turbines and health by Professor Colin Hansen, an eminent leading Acoustician working in this area in Australia, and that to date the Public Health Association have refused to remove their misleading material? Professor Hansen’s comments are here: https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2014/03/11/public-health-association-of-australia-errors-regarding-wind-farm-noise/

Why does the AMA think that this particular group of product manufacturers (wind turbine manufacturers) have escaped the usual requirement that a product or device is shown to be safe after rigorous independent testing BEFORE being sold and installed?

Why does the AMA think that wind turbines are being sited closer together at some Australian Wind Developments than the product manufacturers specify?

Could it be because of the additional lucrative wind turbine sales for the wind turbine product manufacturers such as VESTAS, as well as the additional lucrative subsidies the wind developer receives for the additional wind turbines, funded by all Australian Electrical consumers, channeled through the Federal Clean Energy Regulator as RECS or “Renewable Energy Certificates”.

Finally, have any members of the AMA Federal Council actually read the latest reports from the NHMRC – the draft information statement and the systematic literature review? The NHMRC stated there is consistent but poor quality evidence of sleep deprivation, annoyance symptoms and impaired quality of life. They also indicated that given the lack of high quality evidence that research was required. The reports are available from here: http://waubrafoundation.org.au/2014/public-statement-re-nhmrc-2014-literature-review/

Does the AMA Federal Council support this proposed research?

We look forward to your detailed responses to these important questions.

We hope in the meantime that the AMA Federal Council will decide to immediately remove this position statement, before it does any more damage to the professional and personal reputations of the AMA and its officeholders and members, and that you go and seek up to date industry independent expert advice on this topic.

What about meeting with those clinicians at the front line in rural Australia? Their patients?

Not to mention those rural residents who have been conducting their own research documenting the population health effects, because no one else from any health discipline will do so – remarkable rural women such as Mrs Mary Morris – the only Australian author of a study which made it into the NHMRC’s stringent inclusion criteria for their literature review. The population noise impact surveys by Mrs Morris, Mrs Schneider and Mrs Schafer are here: http://waubrafoundation.org.au/library/community-noise-impact-surveys/

While your AMA position statement remains, it makes the AMA officeholders and members a party to the ongoing abuse and deliberate harm to rural residents, including those who are particularly vulnerable such as children, the elderly, and those with chronic medical and psychiatric conditions. You may wish to read what American Psychiatrist Dr William Hallstein had to say about the experiences of the residents at Falmouth, USA affected by the turbines – the same turbines which Justice Muse subsequently ordered should be turned off at night (http://waubrafoundation.org.au/resources/hallstein-w-falmouth-wind-turbines-sleep-deprivation-psychiatrist-weighs/). Hallstein’s reminder that sleep deprivation is used in torture is precisely what wind turbine residents describe their nights to be. The characteristic “waking at night in an anxious panicked frightened state” is not caused by scaremongering. These episodes are also being reported by overnight visitors, who have no knowledge of either the science, or these specific reports, from others.

There is a range of supporting acoustic research and clinical evidence strongly suggestive that these stress episodes are being caused by infrasound pulses generated by wind turbines, which are activating the vestibular system, and the “fight flight” physiological response of the sympathetic nervous system, and thereby causing acute repetitive physiological stress episodes. Sometimes (rarely) adrenaline surge pathology such as Tako Tsubo heart attacks and acute hypertensive crises are being reported, in both Australia and Canada, which have none of the usual antecedents for these episodes (sudden shock or adrenal tumour). These physiological stress episodes combined with repetitive severe sleep disturbance from such episodes overnight, is strongly suspected to be the reason for the relentless deterioration in residents’ individual physical and mental health with long term chronic exposure to operating wind turbines.

It is no wonder the wind industry and its many well funded supporters do not wish to see the concurrent full spectrum acoustic monitoring together with the physiological EEG, blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol measurements conducted which would demonstrate whether it is indeed these infrasound pulses which are causing some of the symptoms, in addition to those symptoms long known to be caused by low frequency and excessive audible noise. The Waubra Foundation has been requesting this specific objective multidisciplinary research inside the homes of residents reporting the symptoms for over three years.

The “irreparable harm” to the physical and mental health of Australian rural residents is being knowingly perpetrated by this industry and their professional legal, acoustic, and medical advisers, who are enabling it to continue by denying the existing scientific evidence.

Just like Tobacco. Just like Asbestos. Just like Thalidomide.

And the AMA are now actively helping perpetrate this abuse, while this statement remains on your website. As officebearers, you are all responsible.

Your statement will be used around the world by the wind industry as evidence that there is “no problem”, resulting in serious damage to countless other rural residents. I hope that professional ethics, science, compassion, and reason prevail soon, rather than ignorance, arrogance, and the suspicion of undeclared conflicts of interest.

I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,

Sarah Laurie, CEO Waubra Foundation

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, Flinders University
Former AMA state councilor South Australia, and former AMA member
Former Rural General Practitioner, and clinical examiner for the RACGP

March 18, 2014

Download the Open Letter to the AMA

Download the AMA Public Statement

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