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Wind Turbine Acoustic Pollution Assessment Requirements  

Author:  | Health, Noise

On behalf of the many people around the world, suffering acute and chronic health damage from living near wind turbines, the Waubra Foundation demands that relevant authorities initiate:

  • full frequency spectrum acoustic monitoring inside and outside the homes and workplaces of people claiming health problems caused by the proximity of operating wind turbines;
  • the monitoring must be conducted for sufficient time, under the weather and wind conditions indicated by victims as being contributive to their symptoms;
  • measurements must specifically include, infrasound and low frequency noise, (dBZ or dBLin, dBA, dBC, & dBG).

The noise monitoring must be performed by accredited acousticians demonstrably independent of the wind industry, approved by the sufferers, and in a manner that will avoid any deliberate manipulation of turbine operation to reduce the acoustic emissions during testing. The results (including all the raw data and associated sound files) must be made available to all parties.

The Rationale for These Demands

  • Most health practitioners are well aware of the links between chronic severe sleep deprivation (1) chronic stress (2) and poor physical and mental health. This is exactly what residents living near wind turbines are experiencing, (3) together with other specific symptoms directly correlating with acute exposure to this sound energy (4,5,6,7).
  • Knowledge of the damage to health from exposure to infrasound (8) and low frequency noise (9) (ILFN) has been known for many years. Despite this, little is known about the current exposure levels of residents to ILFN emissions from wind turbines inside their homes.
  • The link between chronic exposure to low frequency noise and chronic physiological stress, even when asleep, was clearly highlighted by Professor Leventhall et al in 2003 (10).
  • Most medical practitioners have been unaware of the problems associated with exposure to ILFN. This ignorance has not been helped by acousticians and others calling such problems “annoyance” without accurate clinical diagnoses (11).
  • These symptoms have been reported to occur specifically with exposure to operating wind turbines by medical practitioners since 2003 (12,13,14,15,16,17). Symptoms have been reported by acousticians, health practitioners and residents from countries including Denmark, Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, France, United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
  • Symptoms have been reported historically up to 4km from the nearest wind turbine, and more recently characteristic symptom patterns have been reported at distances up 10km away from the nearest wind turbine (18). This is described especially with larger wind turbines (eg 3MW), and on occasions even further away, where turbines are sited at altitude (19) or near expanses of water.
  • These health problems consistently worsen over time, until the exposure ceases. Families are being advised by their treating doctors to leave their homes in order to regain their health. Many have nowhere else to go, and cannot sell their homes, so they become homeless “wind farm refugees”. Others remain trapped, unable to move (20).
  • Professors Moller and Pedersen, from the University of Aalborg in Denmark, have confirmed that larger more powerful wind turbines emit more low frequency sound waves as a proportion of their sound emissions (21). These emissions are known to easily penetrate through the walls, roofs, and windows of homes and workplaces, due to the lower transmission loss of low frequencies.
  • Recent acoustic survey work in the USA (Falmouth) (22) and Australia (NSW) (23) has confirmed that low frequency noise and pulsatile infrasound emitted by wind turbines have been measured inside the homes and workplaces of sick people, and occur when they are experiencing the symptoms of Wind Turbine Syndrome.
  • Currently governments around the world do not require measurement of the full sound and vibration spectrum, do not require measurement inside homes and workplaces, do not require evaluation of sleep or other disturbances, but instead limit almost all assessment to audible noise (dBA) only, outside homes and workplaces.

Summary

The plight of people made ill by wind turbine acoustic pollution has been universally ignored by their respective governments.

The current noise assessment practices and standards are incompetent and unacceptable, and must be changed to include full spectrum acoustic monitoring inside homes and workplaces as a matter of urgency.

References

1. 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

2. McEwen, Bruce, “Protective and Damaging Effects of Stress Mediators” NEJM 1998, 338:171-179

3. Shepherd, Daniel et al, “Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health-related quality of life” Noise & Health, September-October 2011, 13:54,333-9 www.wind-watch.org/documents/evaluating-the-impact-of-wind-turbine-noise-on-health-related-quality-of-life

4. Pierpont, Dr Nina, “Wind Turbine Syndrome, A Report on a Natural Experiment” Published by K Selected Books, Santa Fe NM 2009 www.windturbinesyndrome.com see also www.wind-watch.org/documents/wind-turbine-syndrome-excerpts-from-the-executive-summary

5. McMurtry, Professor Robert, “Toward a Case Definition of Adverse Health Effects in the Environs of Industrial Wind Turbines: Facilitating a Clinical Diagnosis” Bulletin of Science Technology and Society 2011 31:316 http://bst.sagepub.com/content/31/4/316

6. Phillips, Prof Carl V, “Properly interpreting the epidemiological evidence about the health effects of industrial wind turbines on nearby residents” Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society vol 31 No 4 (August 2011) pp 303–315 http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/properly-interpreting-the-epidemiologic-evidence-about-the-health-effects-of-industrial-wind-turbines-on-nearby-residents/

7. Leventhall, Benton & Pelmear, May 2003, A report for DEFRA “A review of published Research on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects” http://archive.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/noise/research/lowfrequency/

8. NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences), November 2001, “Infrasound Brief Review of Toxicological Literature”

9. Leventhall, Benton & Pelmear, May 2003 op cit

10. Leventhall, Benton & Pelmear, May 2003 op cit Section 10

11. Pederson & Waye, “Perception and Annoyance due to wind turbine noise – a dose-response relationship” in J Acoustical Society America 116 (6) 2004 pp 3460-70

12. Harry, Dr Amanda, “Wind turbines, Noise and Health” 2007 www.wind-watch.org/documents/wind-turbines-noise-and-health

13. Iser, Dr David, personal communication

14. Pierpont, Dr Nina, “Wind Turbine Syndrome, A Report on a Natural Experiment” Published by K Selected Books, Santa Fe NM 2009 www.windturbinesyndrome.com

15. McMurtry, Professor Robert, “Toward a Case Definition of Adverse Health Effects in the Environs of Industrial Wind Turbines: Facilitating a Clinical Diagnosis” Bulletin of Science Technology and Society 2011 31:316 http://bst.sagepub.com/content/31/4/316

16. Hanning C & Evans A, BMJ 2012:344e1527 www.wind-watch.org/documents/wind-turbine-noise-editorial

17. Laurie, Dr Sarah, Medical Director, Waubra Foundation, Submission to the Australian Federal Senate Inquiry into Rural wind Farms, February 2011, accessible via www.waubrafoundation.com.au

18. Waubra Foundation Submission to the NSW Department of Planning, March 2012, at www.wind-watch.org/documents/response-to-nsw-planning-department-draft-guidelines-for-wind-developments

19. Personal communication, Hubert De Bonneville, see also www.windturbinesyndrome.com/2012/french-writer-going-nuts-from-wind-turbines-france

20. www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/03/09/letter-to-australian-prime-minister-from-dr-sarah-laurie

21. Moller & Pedersen “Low Frequency Noise from Large Turbines” J Acoustical Society America 2011 129:3727–3744 www.wind-watch.org/documents/low-frequency-noise-from-large-wind-turbines-2

22. Ambrose, Stephen & Rand, Robert “Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study” 2011 www.wind-watch.org/documents/bruce- mcpherson-infrasound-and-low-frequency-noise-study

23. Cooper, Steven “Review of Draft NSW Guidelines” March 2012 www.wind-watch.org/documents/review-of-nsw-draft-wind-farm-guidelines

The Waubra Foundation
11th May, 2012

Download original document: “Wind Turbine Acoustic Pollution Assessment Requirements

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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