Wind turbine noise, adverse health effects, professional ethics

From National Wind Watch

Author:  Laurie, Sarah


Knowing I would be following Lilli Green’s footsteps with her moving stories of the people she has met around the world adversely impacted by wind turbines has helped me focus on aspects of this complex yet simple problem, which I think have not received enough public attention.

Essentially my interest and that of the Waubra Foundation is in the damage unregulated noise pollution is doing to human health, with a particular focus on the effects of infrasound and low frequency noise. Wind Turbines are one source, but there are others also doing damage.

So my talk is deliberately aimed at better understanding some lessons from the past, both scientific, and ethical, which might help us move forward.

Constructively addressing the current conundrum about precisely what is causing the reported symptoms, sensations, sleep disruption and deteriorating mental and physical health of residents living near industrial wind turbines around the world, and trying to prevent such damage to health in future, has not been helped by ignoring or “burying” important research findings of the past, particularly those of Dr Neil Kelley and his co researchers, and NASA researchers from the 1980’s. [1,2,3]

For those who are not aware, Dr Kelley and his co researchers at the Solar Energy Research Institute in the US, closely connected with the US Department of Energy and NASA, identified in 1985 that the source of the annoyance for the residents living near a single downwind bladed turbine was impulsive infrasound and low frequency noise, which resonated within the building structures. [4]

Their research was detailed, thorough, and conducted in the best scientific fashion – curiosity about unintended consequences or “annoyance” being reported by residents. They wanted to find out what was causing these reported problems, in order to prevent them occurring in future.

The effects were consistently reported to be worst in small rooms facing the noise source. [5] Sensitisation or “conditioning” was also acknowledged [6] – in simple terms people did not habituate or “get used to” the sound energy but became more and more sensitised to it with cumulative exposure. This effect has been consistently reported to me by those affected by infrasound and low frequency noise.

What was also clearly established was that perception of the sound energy was well below the audibility thresholds for hearing in the infrasound range. [7] This is a critically important point, because all too often it is asserted particularly by those with a vested interest that it is the audibility thresholds which are the thresholds to consider, not the much lower infrasound perception thresholds. In other words, people could feel the sound pressure or vibration and were disturbed by it at levels where they could not hear it. This is precisely what people living near wind turbines describe – that they can feel the pulsations or vibrations even when they cannot hear the turbines.  Read full article here…..

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