March 20, 2013
Australia, Letters

Letter re Simon Chapman’s “study”

From Chris Jelbart, March 20, 2013,

Simon Chapman is not a medical doctor, but a sociologist who has specialised in fighting tobacco. This is his area of expertise.

He speaks out against people who feel genuinely ill and suffer genuine symptoms, and denigrates those who try to help through considered, serious and independent research.

Chapman quotes University of Auckland research as providing powerful evidence of the “nocebo” effect. He informs you that this research was of exposure to recorded infrasound, and to sham infrasound. He fails to inform you that this study was of 54 students exposed to 10 minutes of each. He fails to say how the researchers came up with the frequency of wind turbines in their recorded infrasound. Infrasound can vary depending the speed of the blades.

There may well be more noise complaints since 2009, but this can be attributed to the increased length of the blades and the size of the turbines. A 3 MW turbine produces significantly more sound energy in lower frequencies.

Chapman dismisses the findings of Dr. Amanda Harry in the U.K. in 2003, and of Dr. David Iser in Victoria in 2004 because of the size of the study groups. This was before the rise of his so-called anti-windfarm hysteria.

Dr. Iser targeted people living within 1.5 and 2kms of the Toora Wind Energy Facility. 25 questionnaires were sent out. Of the 19 replies, 8 respondents had mild or major problems – about 25%.

Dr. Harry targeted 39 people who had reported symptoms such as headaches, tiredness, disturbed sleep, stress and anxiety. They lived between 300m and 2kms from several windfarms in Wales, Cornwall and the North of England. 81% felt their health was affected, and 73% believed their quality of life was less. Dr. Harry also had evidence and correspondence from people in New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands and U.S.A. who were similarly affected.

Perhaps Chapman – as a Professor of Public Health – should take heed of the World Health Organisation which states that health should be regarded as “a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” (WHO-2001) Under this broad definition noise induced annoyance is an adverse health effect. WHO defines noise annoyance as “a feeling of resentment, displeasure, discomfort, dissatisfaction or offence which occurs when noise interferes with someone’s thoughts, feelings or daily activities.” (WHO-1993)

Anyone who cares to drive up to the Macarthur Wind Energy Facility and stop at various points around it WILL hear noise. For the nearby residents this is nearly constant – only the degree of that noise might vary. Sadly you will not hear the infrasound. That does its insidious work quietly.

If the wind companies, and Simon Chapman, are so sure of the “nocebo” effect they should be willing to back research into the spectrum of noise coming from these industrial turbines, and prove that these symptoms are all in the head. All we want is the proper research carried out by a team of totally independent specialists, qualified in their fields.

Chris Jelbart

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