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Stephen Ambrose to Canadian Council: Wind Turbine Noise is a Real Health Effect

By Stephen Ambrose -- May 5, 2015

“The Council of Canadian Academies continues to rehash selected studies to further wind turbine development–and set aside wind turbine complaints as only a nuisance for public-health officials. Dismissing white papers as ‘grey’ and neighbors’ documentation of harm just adds to the number of wind-turbine victims…. Public health studies should not appear to be performed with blind eyes and deaf ears.”

This question was posed by the Council of Canadian Academies (CAA): Is there evidence to support a causal association between exposure to wind turbine noise and the development of adverse health effects? The answer given was that only personal attitude and annoyance resulted for those in direct proximity to wind turbines.

However, real people and real studies have been ignored to reach this conclusion.

The CCA supports the status quo for wind turbines by failing to recognize that wind turbines operating in quiet rural communities produce the most significant adverse health effects.  This study should not have been hobbled by competing government responsibilities: wind-turbine development incentives, site permitting, and protecting public health. Academic participation does not foster credibility when commissioned to perform consensus building.

Wind-turbine health research is critical, which requires health professionals to make contributions to original research as witnesses. There are many adversely affected communities where they could live as wind turbine neighbors. Two acousticians concerned about why there were so many neighbors’ complaints, went to Falmouth, Massachusetts, to investigate wind turbine noise levels during strong winds. They were invited by strangers already adversely impacted to use their home—a custom, well-built, insulated house, about 1700-ft from an operating 1.65 MW turbine. (Wind turbine acoustic investigation: Infrasound and low frequency noise—A case study). These owners experienced significant health problems forcing the abandonment of their “dream” house.

CCA chose not review “A Cooperative Measurement Survey and Analysis of Low Frequency and Infrasound at the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County, Wisconsin.” This study was performed by five professional noise control engineers in an abandoned residence near wind turbines. An acoustics expert recently published a study with extensive infrasound measurements at three adversely impacted homes near the Cape Bridgewater (Victoria, Australia) wind turbines.

The CCA study could identify only annoyance as factual.  CCA dismissed all adverse health impacts by asserting that conflicting reports were limited or inadequate. CCA did not present evidence that they interviewed adversely impacted neighbors. CCA did not recognize significance differences between non-wind turbine urban communities and rural environments where most of the wind turbines are located.

This report presents another lost opportunity for public health professionals to receive funding to do first-person research and gather evidence by living with wind turbines.


Stephen E. Ambrose (ASA, INCE, Board Certified) is an environmental sound and industrial noise expert. Regarding qualifications, he states: Respect for academic credentials are earned through years of education, independent research, publications, and peer recognition. Expertise is achieved through apprenticeship, independent study, experience and peer recognition. And so he asks critics: “Why are neighbors’ life experiences, our first-person witnesses to harm, considered to have less value, thereby less respect. The mission for scientific research is to reveal truths.”

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