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‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ (Science advances, Australia judiciary takes note)

By Sherri Lange -- January 26, 2018

“Next to aesthetic impact, no aspect of wind energy creates more alarm or more debate than noise…. Wind turbines are not silent. They are audible. All wind turbines create unwanted sound, that is, noise. Some do so to a greater degree than others. And the sounds they produce—the swish of blades through the air, the whir of gears inside the transmission, and the hum of the generator—are typically foreign to rural settings where wind turbines are the most often used.”

– Paul Gipe, Wind Energy Comes of Age (New York:  John Wiley & Sons, 1995), p. 371.

“Why is sensitisation to noise and vibration important? From a public health perspective, sensitisation of individuals to noise will predictably lead to worsening individual health outcomes, especially via the well-known disease pathways associated with chronic stress, and chronic sleep deprivation.”

– Dr. Laurie Sarah (note to Sherri Lange: December 16, 2017)

“… the [Australian] Tribunal recognized that ‘wind turbine noise at times exceeds 40 dB(A), (which is a recognised threshold for annoyance/sleep disturbance)’; that a significant amount of sound energy emitted by wind turbines is in the low frequency noise range, so using the dB(A) weighting system is therefore inappropriate. The Tribunal recognized that ‘humans are more sensitive to low frequency sound, and it can therefore cause greater annoyance than higher frequency sound’; and that “even if it is not audible, low frequency noise and infrasound may have other effects on the human body, which are not mediated by hearing but also not fully understood. Those effects may include motion-sickness-like symptoms, vertigo, and tinnitus-like symptoms.”

– Dr. Laurie Sarah, note to North America Platform Against Wind Power (NA-PAW), December 17, 2017.

There have been recent developments in the debate over the health effects of inaudible low frequency noise in the vicinity of industrial wind turbines for human neighbors. First, a direct causal link has been determined between exposure to pulsing inaudible low frequency noise and human responses. Second, the Australian judiciary has recognized wind noise as a plausible pathway to disease, demoting the prior standard dB(A) noise metric. (Administrative Appeals Tribunal, AU)

Laurie/Thorne/Cooper, “Startle Reflex & Sensitisation,” ASA Conference, New Orleans, December 2017. 

This paper, presented last month at the Acoustical Society of America, asks:

Why is sensitisation to noise and vibration important? From a public health perspective, sensitisation of individuals to noise will predictably lead to worsening individual health outcomes, especially via the well-known disease pathways associated with chronic stress, and chronic sleep deprivation. 

Dr. Laurie, Dr Bob Thorne, and Steven Cooper outlined numerous scientifically established links between amplitude modulated sound, sleep disturbance (especially during REM sleep), startle reflex, PTSD, sensitisation and chronic stress.

Steven Cooper’s recent double-blind case control provocation laboratory study was also described. This small ground-breaking pilot study established a direct causal relationship between pulsing amplitude modulated sound, and reactions of noise sensitised people to the presence of that inaudible pulsing sound that had been taken from a WAV file recording inside a bedroom of an abandoned home at Cape Bridgewater. This study has clarified the research, put focus on the legitimate concerns of victims world wide. We reference the New Orleans Conference and the research of Mr. Cooper and others, by way of “lighting the path” to the very recent AAT decision.

Dr. Nina Pierpont, author of Wind Turbine Syndrome, 2009, was quoted by Dr. Laurie, Steven Cooper and Dr. Bob Thorne in the presentation.

Wind Turbine Syndrome, I propose, is mediated by the vestibular system-by disturbed sensory input to eyes, ears, and stretch and pressure receptors in a variety of body locations. These feed back neurologically onto a person’s sense of position and motion in space, which is in turn connected in multiple ways to brain functions as disparate as spatial memory and anxiety. Several lines of evidence suggest that the amplitude (power or intensity) of low frequency noise and vibration needed to create these effects may be even lower than the auditory threshold at the same low frequencies. Re-stating this, it appears that even low frequency noise and vibration too weak to hear can still stimulate the human vestibular system, opening the door for the symptoms I call Wind Turbine Syndrome.

Steven Cooper’s laboratory study showed that Dr Nina Pierpont was indeed scientifically correct in 2009 that inaudible sound could induce the symptoms and sensations of “Wind Turbine Syndrome”, known to acousticians as “annoyance”.

Drs Pierpont and Laurie, and other trained medical practitioners reporting on adverse health effects in their own patients, long have had research dismissed or challenged: Dr Amanda Harry (UK 2003), Dr David Iser (Australia 2004) and Dr Nina Pierpont, (USA 2009).

Overcoming Critics & Legal Vindication

These authors have withstood years of challenges from the wind industry: they have variously been referred to as propagandists, and sensationalist, encouragers of hysteria, and inducers of illness. Needless to say, the public, many suffering, and some of their treating health professionals, have understood the value of the work of both medical pioneers (and others), and their clear explanations for the suffering. The term coined by Pierpont, Wind Turbine Syndrome, has now become a well accepted phrase amongst those who experience these effects.  See here for a description.

This past week, vindication in a legal setting came via the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

The AAT arrived at some “first of their kind” remarkable admissions (for this kind of administrative/legal body) with respect to sensitization, triggers, appropriate measures of wind turbine noise, and pathways to disease.

Dr. Laurie’s own words on the importance of the Tribunal’s rulings (email to NA-PAW):

This decision contains critically important legal rulings on wind turbine noise and the plausible pathways to serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease via noise annoyance.  These rulings are internationally relevant, and will set a legal precedent (starting from para 467).

Specifically, the Tribunal members recognized that “wind turbine noise at times exceeds 40 dB(A), (which is a recognised threshold for annoyance/sleep disturbance)”; that a significant amount of sound energy emitted by wind turbines is in the low frequency noise range, so using the dB(A) weighting system is therefore inappropriate.  The Tribunal recognized that “humans are more sensitive to low frequency sound, and it can therefore cause greater annoyance than higher frequency sound”; and that “even if it is not audible, low frequency noise and infrasound may have other effects on the human body, which are not mediated by hearing but also not fully understood. Those effects may include motion-sickness-like symptoms, vertigo, and tinnitus-like symptoms.

AAT Decision: Some Quotations

Below, you will find quotes and a synthesis of new important research on wind turbine impacts from the AAT Tribunal, that reflect a new and decidedly improved judicial understanding of some of the relevant acoustic and clinical issues.

  • We accept that the evidence points to an association and a plausible pathway between WTN and adverse health effects (of a physical nature), mediated by annoyance, sleep disturbance and/or 373 See Exhibit A58. 374 Exhibit A60, p 8. 375 Ibid. PAGE 152 OF 161 psychological distress.
  • It is not uncommon in human experience for the appreciation that an activity or exposure is injurious to human health to develop over time. In the way scientific understanding and knowledge develops, it can sometimes take time for the association between an activity or exposure, on the one hand, and an effect on human health, on the other, to become accepted.  This is particularly so if the activity or exposure has previously been thought to be benign or advantageous.  Likewise, it can sometimes take time for there to be recognition that an activity or exposure can give rise to forms of disease which have not previously been recognised.  Asbestosis and the association between tobacco smoking and lung cancer provide examples.
  • We also consider it appropriate to be open to the possibility that sound emissions from wind farms may have indirect health effects, which in turn cause or contribute to diseases. It is not apparent to us that, in order to be regarded as promoting the prevention or control of diseases, the relevant activities must be directed toward the most immediate or proximate cause of a disease.  As acknowledged in the Commissioner’s Information Statement, it may be sufficient that activities are directed toward adverse health effects which, themselves, are associated with a disease or diseases.
  • There is a degree of recognition in some of the medical literature that proximity to wind farms is associated with adverse health effects.
  • In particular, an article published in the Journal of the Royal Society for Medicine in 2014 proposed the following diagnostic criteria for a probable diagnosis of “adverse health effects in the environs of wind turbines”:
  1. First-order criteria (all four of the following must be present) (a) Domicile within up to 10 km from IWT [Industrial Wind Turbines] … (b) Altered health status following the start-up of, or initial exposure to, and during the operation of IWT. There may be a latent period of up to six months. (c) Amelioration of symptoms when more than 10 km from the environs of IWT. (d) Recurrence of symptoms upon return to environs of IWT.

  2. Second-order criteria (at least three of the following occur or worsen after the initiation of operation of IWT) (a) Compromise of quality of life. (b) Continuing sleep disturbance, difficulty initiating sleep and/or difficulty with sleep disruption. (c) Annoyance producing increased levels of stress and/or psychological distress. (d) Preference to leave residence temporarily or permanently for sleep and/or restoration.

  3. Three or more of the following frequently occur or worsen following the initiation of IWT. If the symptoms described in second-order criteria ((b) and (c)) are present, no further symptoms or complaints are required for the probable diagnosis. Based on the authors’ experience, the following list provides an indication of the more common symptoms:

    a. Neurological (a) Tinnitus (b) Dizziness (c) Difficulties with balance (d) Ear ache (e) Nausea (f) HeadacheCognitive (a) Difficulty in concentrating (b) Problems with recall or difficulties with recall Cardiovascular (a) Hypertension (b) Palpitations (c) Enlarges heart (cardiomegaly)

    b. Psychological (a) Mood disorder, i.e. depression and anxiety (b) Frustration (c) Feelings of distress (d) Anger Regulatory disorders (a) Difficulty in diabetes control (b) Onset of thyroid disorders or difficulty controlling hypo- or hyper-thyroidism

    c. Systemic (a) Fatigue (b) Sleepiness.18

    d. With respect to more specific impacts, the authors also reported that:

Both short-term laboratory studies of human beings and long-term studies of animals have provided biological mechanisms and plausibility for the theory that long-term exposure to environmental noise affects the cardiovascular system and causes manifest diseases (including hypertension, ischaemic heart diseases, and stroke).188

  • A study carried out by Michael A Nissenbaum et al and reported in the article “Effects of Industrial Wind Turbine Noise on Sleep and Health” published in 2012 showed as follows:

Participants living within 1.4 km of an IWT had worse sleep, were sleepier during the day, and had worse SF36 Mental Component Scores compared to those living further than 1.4 km away. Significant dose-response relationships between PSQI, ESS, SF36 Mental Component Score, and log-distance to the nearest IWT were identified after controlling for gender, age, and household clustering. The adverse event reports of sleep disturbance and ill health by those living close to IWTs are supported.190

  • There are also a number of articles in the evidence which explore the possibility that some individuals are more sensitive to low frequency sound and infrasound, and that this may produce motion-sickness like symptoms in some people. The abstract of an article which appeared in the March 2015 edition of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America stated:

For at least four decades, there have been reports in scientific literature of people experiencing motion sickness-like symptoms attributed to low-frequency sound and infrasound. In the last several years, there have been an increasing number of such reports with respect to wind turbines; this corresponds to wind turbines becoming more prevalent.

A study in Shirley, WI, has led to interesting findings that include: (1) To induce major effects, it appears that the source must be at a very low frequency, about 0.8 Hz and below with maximum effects at about 0.2 Hz; (2) the largest, newest wind turbines are moving down in frequency into this range; (3) the symptoms of motion sickness and wind turbine acoustic emissions “sickness” are very similar; (4) and it appears that the same organs in the inner ear, the otoliths may be central to both conditions. Given that the same organs may produce the same symptoms, one explanation is that the wind turbine acoustic emissions may, in fact, induce motion sickness in those prone to this affliction.192

The article made recommendations for further research. 193 

  • In an article entitled “Infrasound from Wind Turbines Could Affect Humans” published in 2011, Dr Alec Salt and Dr James Kaltenbach postulate that:

Although the cells that provide hearing are insensitive to infrasound, other sensory cells in the ear are much more sensitive, which can be demonstrated by electrical recordings. Responses to infrasound reach the brain through pathways that do not involve conscious hearing, but instead may produce sensations of fullness, pressure or tinnitus or have no sensation. Activation of subconscious pathways by infrasound could disturb sleep. Based on our current knowledge of how the ear works, it is quite possible that low frequency sounds at the levels generated by wind turbines could affect those living nearby.196

In a later article, published in 2014, the same authors provided a diagram illustrating the portion of “the wind turbine sound spectrum” which is too low to be heard, but “sufficient to stimulate the OHC of the ear”.197 They also stated that:

Evidence is mounting that loss of or even just overstimulation of OHCs may lead to major disturbances in the balance of excitatory and inhibitory influences in the dorsal cochlear nucleus. One product of this disturbance is the emergency of hyperactivity, which is widely believed to contribute to the perception of phantom sounds or tinnitus.  The granule cell system also connects to numerous auditory and nonauditory centres of the brain. Some of these centres are directly involved in audition, but others serve functions as diverse as attentional control, arousal, startle, the sense of balance, and the monitoring of head and ear position.198 … Although there have been many studies of infrasound on humans, these have typically involved higher levels for limited periods (typically of up to 24 hours). In a search of the literature, no studies were found that have come close to replicating the long-term exposures to low-level infrasound experienced by those living near wind turbines. So, to date, there are no published studies showing that such prolonged exposures do not harm humans. On the other hand, there are now numerous reports (e.g., Pierpont, 2009; Punch and James, 2016), discussed extensively in this journal, that are highly suggestive that individuals living near wind turbines are made ill, with a plethora of symptoms that commonly include chronic sleep disturbance. The fact that such reports are being dismissed on the grounds that the level of infrasound produced by wind turbines is at too low a level to be heard appears to totally ignore the known physiology of the ear.199

  • An Information Report prepared for the Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group, Ontario, Canada, dated July 2015 states as follows with respect to infrasound and low frequency noise:

Noise measurements for most studies and environmental assessments have been limited to the measurement of audible sound outside homes—using dBA weighted monitoring which is insensitive to infrasound frequencies. Some studies and environmental assessments have even relied on projected audible sound averages from computer produced models. Such observations and projections fail to take appropriate account of the distinguishing signature of the sound from a wind turbine. Unlike the more random naturally occurring sounds (such as wind or lake waves which may themselves have an infrasound component), the sound from wind turbines displays characteristics that produce a pattern that the ear and audio processing in the brain recognize. Our hearing is strongly influenced by pattern recognition. (This is why we can pick out the sound of a familiar voice even in a crowded room with many people speaking). One recognizable wind turbine pattern is a tonal signal of sharply rising and falling pulses in the infrasound range, (typically about 0.75 Hz, 1.5 Hz, 2.25 Hz, 3.0 Hz, and so on). It is produced by the blade passing the tower. At this frequency these pulses may be “felt or sensed” more than “heard” by the ears. Research by Dr. Alec Salt and others has demonstrated that subaudible (sic) infrasound does result in a physiological response from various systems within the body. The second recognizable pattern is the amplitude modulation. This is the typical “swoosh” rising and falling that is audible. * A third recognizable pattern of sound from wind turbines results from the equipment in the nacelle (such as the gearbox if the turbine has one) and ventilating fans. Although in some cases this third sound source may become predominant, it is usually of lesser effect that (sic) the first two. We now know that subaudible pulsating infrasound can be detected inside homes near operating wind turbines. It can also be identified up to 10 kilometres distant. We know also that very low levels of infrasound and LFN are registered by the nervous system and affect the body even though they cannot be heard. The research cited in this report implicates these infrasonic pulsations as the cause of some of the most commonly reported “sensations” experienced by many people living close to wind turbines including chronic sleep disturbance, dizziness, tinnitus, heart palpitations, vibrations and pressure sensations in the head and chest etc.

 Testimony of Expert Witnesses to the the Tribunal

World experts were asked to determine definitions of “disease.” (They were then asked to define and associate industrial sound, vibration and relations of these to “disease.”)

World experts, credentials noted and accepted by the Tribunal, were:

(a) Dr Bruce Rapley who describes himself as an “independent consulting scientist”.  Dr Rapley has a B.Sc (Biological Systems), MPhil (his thesis concerned “System design and testing of a medical biostimulator”), and a PhD (Environmental Health, Acoustics, Human Health and Cognition).

(b) Dr Robert Thorne.  As noted earlier, Dr Thorne is presently the Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the Board of Studies of Acoustar Work Health and Safety Training Centre, a training organisation which he established in 2014.  He has a number of academic qualifications including a PhD in Health Science (“Assessing intrusive noise and low amplitude sound” awarded by Massey University in 2007), a Diploma in Science (Noise Management) and Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control awarded by the UK Institute of Acoustics in 1985.  

(c) Mr Steven Cooper who is an acoustical consulting engineer.  Mr Cooper holds a BSc (Engineering) from the University of New South Wales and a MSc (Architecture) from the University of Sydney.

(d) Mr William Huson who is an acoustical consultant.  Mr Huson has a BSc (Hons) in Applied Physics obtained in the United Kingdom in 1975 and a MSc (Sound and Vibration Studies) from the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at Southampton obtained in 1977.

(e) Dr Mariana Alves-Pereira who is an Associate Professor in the School of Economic Sciences and Organizations at the Universidade Lusófona in Lisbon, Portugal.  Dr Alves-Pereira has a Bachelor degree in Physics, a Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering and a Doctoral degree in Environmental Science, the latter from the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in Caparica, Portugal.  Dr Alves-Pereira is not a medical practitioner but through her work has learnt some medical concepts. 

(f) Dr David McBride who is Associate Professor in Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of Otago in New Zealand.  Dr McBride is a fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and has completed a PhD in occupational health concerning the health effects of noise, especially impulse noise. 

All experts were variously questioned about “industrial noise, sleep disturbance, annoyance, and mental disorders.” They were asked to comment on:

(a) industrial noise and vibration is associated with, contributes to, or causes “diseases” in human beings; and

(b) wind farm noise, including low frequency noise and infrasound or vibration, is associated with, contributes to, or causes “diseases” in human beings.

(It is interesting to note that the Tribunal appeared “daunted” by the sheer volume of materials presented by these experts.)

  • With respect to the medical issues, the experts largely agree that wind turbine emissions are capable of producing, and do produce, noise annoyance (they disagree on the specifics of this). There is also broad agreement that noise annoyance is associated with a range of adverse health outcomes, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease.  It will be readily apparent therefore that there is broad agreement that there is a plausible pathway linking wind farm emissions with adverse health outcomes and disease.
  • …. there is also broad agreement between the acoustic experts that wind turbine emissions cannot be captured in dB(A), and that the best way of measuring these is through unweighted measurements, subjected to detailed analysis.

We note that Mr Cooper’s and Mr  Huson’s evidence in this respect was consistent with the following passage of the Guidelines for Community Noise published by the World Health Organization in 1999:

  • A noise measure based only on energy summation and expressed as the conventional equivalent measure, LAeq, is not enough to characterize most noise environments. It is equally important to measure the maximum values of noise fluctuations, preferably combined with a measure of the number of noise events. If the noise includes a large proportion of low-frequency components, still lower values than the guideline values below will be needed. When prominent low-frequency components are present, noise measures based on A-weighting are inappropriate. The difference between dB(C) and dB(A) will give crude information about the presence of low-frequency components in noise, but if the difference is more than 10 dB, it is recommended that a frequency analysis of the noise be performed. It should be noted that a large proportion of low-frequency components in noise may increase considerably the adverse effects on health.283

Mr Cooper also referred to an investigation undertaken by him of the Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm.  He explained that:

The study involved noise and vibration monitoring over an eight-week period utilising three houses at Cape Bridgewater being the designated houses of the “specific local residents”. Included in the study was a period of approximately two weeks that covered a planned shutdown of the entire wind farm for the purpose of high-voltage cabling work at a main substation. Monitoring occurred during the shutdown period so as to identify the existing acoustic and vibration environment at the nominated houses when the wind farm was not operating but wind was occurring as part of the natural environment.302

  1. He further explained that relevant residents were asked to complete questionnaires with respect to their experiences. In the course of the study it became apparent that the descriptors used in the questionnaire were not adequate and the concept of “sensation” was introduced, “being something that the residents neither heard nor felt through the floor of the building but was something that they experienced in their body”.303 He observed “[a]s to the mechanism of how sensation is perceived in humans as a result of turbines it is correct that from my Cape Bridgewater study it is obvious more scientific research is required”.304
  2. Summarising the results of the study, he stated:

The examination of the resident’s observations versus the data from the wind farm found that there was a link between the operation of the wind farm and the high levels of sensation, with severity 5 being equivalent to creating a physical harm to the residents and/or their perspective the sensation was of such an extent and magnitude that required them to leave the homes (or wishing to leave their homes).

  • Mr Cooper’s view is that “Attempting to undertake research using dB(A) levels in my opinion is a waste of time as there is no correlation with the operation of the turbines and dB(A)”.332

SUMMARY OF THE TRIBUNAL

On our analysis, a number of propositions emerge from the medical and scientific evidence. Some of those propositions had unanimous support by the relevant experts, and others had the support of most.

  • Wind turbines emit sound, some of which is audible, and some of which is inaudible (infrasound);
  • There are numerous recorded instances of WTN exceeding 40 dB(A) (which is a recognised threshold for annoyance/sleep disturbance);
  • There are also recorded instances of substantial increases in sound at particular frequencies when particular wind farms are operating compared with those at times when they are shut down.357
  • If it is present at high enough levels, low frequency sound and even infrasound may be audible;
  • WTN is complex, highly variable and has unique characteristics;
  • The amount and type of sound emitted by a wind farm at a given time and in a given location is influenced by many variables including topography, temperature, wind speed, the type of wind turbines, the extent to which they are maintained, the number of turbines, and their mode of operation;
  • Wind farms potentially operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week;
  • There are numerous examples of WTN giving rise to complaints of annoyance from nearby residents, both in Australia and overseas. 

The Tribunal also accepts:

  • A significant proportion of the sound emitted by wind turbines is in the lower frequency range, i.e. below 20 Hz;358
  • The dB(A) weighting system is not designed to measure that sound, and is not an appropriate way of measuring it;359
  • The most accurate way of determining the level and type of sound present at a particular location is to measure the sound at that location;
  • The best way of accurately measuring WTN at a particular location is through ‘raw’ unweighted measurements which are not averaged across time and are then subjected to detailed “narrow-band” analysis; 

When it is present, due to its particular characteristics, low frequency noise and infrasound can be greater indoors than outdoors at the same location, and can cause a building to vibrate, resulting in resonance;

 Humans are more sensitive to low frequency sound, and it can therefore cause greater annoyance than higher frequency sound;

 Even if it is not audible, low frequency noise and infrasound may have other effects on the human body, which are not mediated by hearing but also not fully understood.  Those effects may include motion-sickness-like symptoms, vertigo, and tinnitus-like symptoms.  However, the material before us does not include any study which has explored a possible connection between such symptoms and wind turbine emissions in a particular population. 

We consider that the evidence justifies the following conclusions: 

 The proposition that sound emissions from wind farms directly cause any adverse health effects which could be regarded as a “disease” for the purposes of the ACNC Act is not established;

 Nor, on the current evidence, is there any plausible basis for concluding that wind farm emissions may directly cause any disease;

However, noise annoyance is a plausible pathway to disease (Our emphasis) 

We also note that the evidence indicated that the annoyance resulting from noise during sleeping times may be greater for those with a noise sensitivity or who have become sensitised to noise.

  1. As our earlier findings have indicated, some wind farms generate sound which is capable of causing, and does cause, annoyance. We are further satisfied that annoyance of the kind which is generated (often associated with psychological distress and sleep disturbance), is a recognised pathway to a range of adverse health outcomes, including hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
  2. In addition, it is evident that the matters bearing on the existence of a possible relationship between wind farm sound, annoyance and adverse health outcomes are poorly understood. There has to date been no large scale study comparing the actual sound generated by wind turbines, on the one hand, with the annoyance and objectively measured health effects apparently produced by that sound, on the other.

A major limitation (of the Health Canada Study) is that the conclusions of the study were based on calculated, rather than actual, noise measurements (although some of the calculated noise levels were based on measurements).  However, as we understand the evidence, the sound generated by wind turbines is so variable that actual measurements are to be preferred.  We accept that measurements based on estimates or averages may not accurately reflect the sound which was present when the particular level of annoyance was experienced or recorded.

Another significant drawback of the Health Canada study, as we understand it, is that the WTN was measured in dB(A) and dB(C).  All of the evidence before us is to the effect that WTN cannot be accurately captured in dB(A), or even dB(C) (although dB(C) is preferable).  The preponderance of the acoustic evidence is also to the effect that by far the best way of capturing the sound produced by wind farms is to take unweighted measurements, and then subject them to detailed analysis, including narrow band analysis, to determine the components of the sound which is present.

It follows in our view that the applicant has established that there is a plausible basis for thinking that wind turbine sound (mediated by annoyance) may lead to adverse health outcomes, such as to warrant further investigation.  It is unnecessary for us to draw conclusions as to the precise nature of the annoyance which is caused, and whether annoyance may be caused by sound which is not audible (infrasound).  That is something which we expect will be the subject of further study and investigation.  For our purposes, it is sufficient that annoyance is produced, and it appears that it may be associated with adverse health outcomes.

Conclusion 

For a full view of the Tribunal’s assessment and conclusions,  please visit here: For the summary on the Waubra Foundation website, visit here.

We also note that sensitization is not completely reversible.

Once sensitized to low frequency noise, that effect appears to stay with people even in the absence of ongoing exposure, ready to be retriggered when they are re exposed to the amplitude modulated pulsing sound. [Notes to NA-PAW from Dr. Laurie, with permission.]

The evidence is accruing, and emphatic. People are being seriously harmed; current and historic assessments and testing methodology of “noise,” vibration, shadow flicker, ILFN, and amplitude modification are unethical, and meaningless.

Cooperating or permitting government bodies must immediately heed the wider implications of these findings of the Australian Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

10 Comments


  1. Kathryn Sternstein  

    This is very important and the news should be spread far and wide.

    Reply

  2. Sommer  

    Dr. Sarah Laurie deserves enormous credit. Her compassion and persistence has given hope to so many people in despair….even in rural Ontario!
    Dr. William Hallstein M.D., in defence of the victims of the Falmouth wind project said:
    “The human nervous system is the most sensitive instrument available to date for evaluating the impact of the Falmouth wind turbines on residents who live close to them. The ONLY experts in the discussion are the people who are sensing the sound, vibrations, pressure waves, etc emitted by the turbines. There is no one more “expert” than these people. No so called expert has either equipment nor information more accurate and sensitive than the affected residents’ nervous systems. NO instruments more sensitive than people have been invented! Others who claim to be experts are peddling smoke and mirrors in an effort to invalidate and discredit the affected residents. ”

    Clusters of turbines, sited too close to peoples’ homes, exist in many communities and have caused similar harm. The ‘order followers’ who have allowed and continue to allow this to happen must be stopped now. The psychopaths giving the orders must also be fully exposed.

    Until Dr. Hallstein’s words are thoroughly understood, people being harmed, who are reporting their experiences, will continue to be abused even as they’re participating, under duress, in studies to validate the harm they’re reporting.
    These turbines need to be turned off.
    Forced relocation is absolutely wrong.
    In societies that are proud of their leading edge, pro-health values, there is no justification for putting people through this level of distress.

    Reply

  3. Sherri Lange  

    Thanks Ms. Sommer and Ms. Sternstein. The accolades for the work of Dr. Laurie are arriving fast. We are not aware of many who have her complete dedication in the face of Big Wind’s forces to demean. She along with Dr. Nina Pierpont, will long be remembered as pioneers with compassion and fortitude. The importance of this AAT decision will certainly be immense, especially as people begin to understand the uselessness of using dBA alone as the yardstick for impacts. Watch this decision from a high court, parlay into other courtroom discussions.

    Marsh Rosenthall wrote today, and we have permission to quote him:

    “This is truly great news! That the Tribunal has recognized the medical danger of being exposed to infra-sound, is huge. The entire wind power establishment must also recognize, and own up to being its source.

    Wind power is an extremely toxic propagator of ILFNs.

    This information can define the kind of culture we have. Are we the Green wishful thinkers who would dominate us, or may we be free thinkers?

    What I am saying is that this medical decision could usher in a new paradigm. (This may be seen as off topic, by some, but it’s real.)

    BRAVISIMO, DR. SARAH! “

    Reply

  4. Rich Lentz  

    Just how does the typical Wind Turbine manufacture measure these low frequencies? I was taught that Piezoelectric and most other transducers are not suitable as displacement monitors for very-low-frequency phenomena. The sensitive device is held in place by the enclosure which is also vibrating at the same frequency. For higher frequencies this is no problem due to the difference in the resonance of the sensor and the enclosure. As the frequency decreases this no longer is true.
    another problem I have is the fact that it is well known that animals can sense the vibrations of earth quakes literally before they happen from the low frequency vibrations of the ground or building they are in – yet humans notice or sense nothing.
    A local store in an effort to brag about their “greenness” recently installed a Wind Turbine large enough to supply all of their power (when the wind is blowing). Recently I had to visit them to pick out replacement vanity for the bathroom. On first seeing the Wind Turbine I commented to my wife that the noise in the parking lot is as bad as the typical teenager and his booming bass speakers. Seemed quieter after I was in the store, but after about 15 minutes I had a growing sensation that I could no longer stay there. After another 10 minutes or so I had to leave. I literally was getting a feeling that I was going to throw up. Within 5 minutes of leaving the sensation was gone. I have also had that feeling after purchasing a new car and listening to the Bose Radio system. Had to decrease the base response down to negative settings to be able to listen to the radio.

    Reply

    • Sherri Lange  

      You raise really interesting points. Wind manufacturers have shied away from the measurements required to ensure public safety, for generations. Making the knowledge they already had, long ago, would of course bite into profits. Even perhaps prohibit projects altogether. Let’s not kid ourselves that they innocently did not know. Look also at the admission of possible problems, INEVITABLE problems, with simple AUDIBLE sound at Falmouth, and the need to ask Commissioners to sign that they acknowledged this possible over run on dBA. But that is just ONE side, as you note. Robert Rand and Rick James have measured ILFN at the Shirley Wind Project in WI. Acoustician Steven Cooper has measured what is now termed “pressure pulsations” at Cape Bridgewater in AU. This was a blind study where residents did not know if the turbines were on or off. All of these are in their own way, groundbreaking. What is most impressive, is that the AAT, a high court, verified the findings of the experts consulted of many things, that “A significant proportion of the sound emitted by wind turbines is in the lower frequency range, i.e. below 20 Hz.” People like you, are having symptoms, nausea, and the SENSATION that you needed to leave (the store). Some are finely tuned and may experience what you did fairly quickly.

      Your other comment, and thanks, because I share this question, re vibration and the different responses animals to humans, is quite puzzling, save that perhaps over evolutionary time, necessity became the mother to adaptation. I also have wondered about ‘whole body’ hearing, such as the spider who has no ears, but responds to someone clapping hands on the other side of a room. There is much to learn! In my own family, there are wide differences of who can enjoy a certain loudness in general, or in music, and a few are off the map in sensitivity.

      I really like that you share your personal experience near a turbine. Your experience is spot on with others. Now imagine being forced to endure the impacts day in and day out, and even perhaps not having a family doctor believe you.

      This AAT decision, if circulated far and in places where it can lead to political/procedural change, will be seriously important. We have really to thank researchers around the world, for delving so deeply, and importantly for sharing what they know, and we also need to humbly accept the voices of the impacted; those who have described their ‘sensations’ and degraded health, even to the point of heart attacks, and yes, suicide, and for using in cases, many, the strongest words, that they are living in ‘concentration camps.’ For some who cannot afford to simply pack up and relocate, this is indeed how it must feel.

      “Brown County Board of Health that Duke Energy’s eight 2.5 MW wind turbines are a human health hazard– a declaration that has not been rescinded. “(Shirley, WI)

      This decision was based on a report by Rick James who documented acoustic emissions including infra-sound and low frequency noise within a radius of 6 MILES of the Shirley Wind turbines.

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  5. Michael Spencley  

    The anecdotal evidence is staggering! Families the world over having to vacate their homes while others, due to their financial circumstance are forced to endure this torture. It would appear that the Australian Tribunal has notched a milestone in synthesizing the medical and scientific evidence that may prove prescient in ending this debacle.

    Particular thanks to the referenced brave professionals who have openly and objectively investigated the harmful effects of Industrial Wind Turbines. They have dedicated untold months and even years of research and documentation while assuming the risk of “swimming against the current” in the river of professional opinion. And finally, thanks to Sherri Lange and Master Resource for documenting and reporting on it. This is a critically important article by Lange that should be compulsory reading for every health professional, educator, scientist and government representative, worldwide.

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  6. Sherri Lange  

    Thank you, Michael. Indeed, thank you to Master Resource for populating the most up to date resources on so many turbine related matters. The health issues alone are staggeringly obvious, and yet blocked by denials from the industry and puppets, that are ludicrous, but embedded into the ‘clean, green, safe, better for the planet’ dogma.

    It is also important to remember how important it is to call out directly with our information to politicians at every level. One example of the success of this, comes from CO. Residents impacted reached out to Rep Lundeen, who has now initiated (House Bill) HB18-1085, which calls for an investigation, two years, approximately, of health impacts from turbines, independent, and world level research. While this is a long stretch for residents suffering now, it is clearly a move to more anticipated protections. This is but one example of movement in state legislatures (and communities) to halt the move of industrial wind’s clear devastation, all levels.

    The question of course arises: why would we not enact immediate moratoria everywhere, knowing what we now know? TENN and ME have done this now. A few days ago, Governor LePage enacted an executive order effectively banning wind turbine development in the west and coastal sections of Maine. We wish, of course, the order would extend to offshore as well.

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  7. Suzanne Albright  

    Excellent, well researched, highly credible evidence regarding infra-sound effects on humans! So some pseudo-environmentalists suggest an alternative- offshore wind turbine facilities (NOT to be confused with “farms”). Does this mean that marine animals are immune to the horrific effects of infra-sound? The answer is clearly NO. Published March 4, 2016 by Paul Driessen and Mark Duchamp:

    “Between January 9 and February 4 this year, 29 sperm whales got stranded and died on English, German and Dutch beaches. Environmentalists and the news media offered multiple explanations – except the most obvious and likely one: offshore wind farms.”

    This comes from an extensive article describing the beaching and subsequent deaths of sperm whales, and also seals. No one has been able to prove a different explanation other than the same intolerable effects experienced by humans and livestock who are exposed to wind turbine syndrome onshore. No living creature anywhere is immune to this torture. The only acceptable solution is to ban these worthless monstrosities everywhere- land and sea!

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  8. Sherri Lange  

    Thanks, Ms Albright. Absolutely correct. The arrogant hiding of impacts of ILFN and pressure pulsation from the public and permitting agencies is nothing short of criminal.

    The impacts on animals/wildlife are compellingly documented world wide. The ATT makes the connection between Asbestosis and the link between lung cancer and smoking.

    It won’t be long before the insolent carnage in oceans and waterways also full of ‘noise’, vibration, ILFN, has its own clinical diagnosis and terminology.

    In ‘The Science of Navigation,’ by Mark Denny, an explanation of naturally occurring infra sound (waves, etc.) which travels thousands of miles, and actually provides some birds with sonic markers, navigational instruction. But imagine the chaos of a naturally occurring infra sound system colliding with man made, drilling, shipping, turbines, inside the ocean. It is suspected that whales use infra sound over long distances to communicate. Enter chaotic disruption, massive amounts of noise, human wind turbine induced infra sound, and as you note, simultaneous whale deaths on beaches. The connection is clear.

    “Since January 2016 over 40 Whales have washed ashore from North Carolina to Maine. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) funds research to deploy offshore wind turbines. The year 2016 was the first year the United States deployed ocean wind turbines which coincide with the whale beachings.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, has declared an “Unusual Mortality Event,” prompting a federal probe.”

    UNUSUAL MORTALITY EVENTS. Human and Animal.

    If you want to be moved to tears by an extraordinary tale, true or not, read Roger Payne’s essay: “Not for Mere Man.” He reflects on a few of the largest brains and sensing organs on earth, the Elephant and the Whale.” I won’t spoil this read. Here it is. It is brief. It recounts a telling by the late Lyall Watson, who witnessed a remarkable event, later told in his book, Elephantoms.

    http://www.whale.org/no-place-mere-man-roger-payne/

    Perhaps more recognition of our ‘mere-ness’ would be well considered.

    Wind turbines show complete disregard for anything remotely respectful in nature. Full stop.

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  9. Dear AWEA: There Are Wind Power Nuisance & Health Effects (complaints, studies large and growing) - Master Resource  

    […] ‘Wind Turbine Syndrome’ (Science advances, Australia judiciary takes note)‘ January 26, 2018. […]

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