The Monstrous ‘Ethics’ of the Wind Industry’s Acoustic Consultants

The acoustic consultants who have made $millions from writing utterly irrelevant noise ‘rules’ and defending them in front of planning courts and panels will never be accused of acting ethically.

Their clients demand compliance reports that are made-to-measure, and they are happy to oblige, by either causing data to disappear or simply changing the numbers (see our post here).

The corruption started over 30 years ago: Three Decades of Wind Industry Deception: A Chronology of a Global Conspiracy of Silence and Subterfuge

And continues to this day.

As this letter from the husband of one of its long-suffering victims attests.

The letter is addressed to the editors of Sound & Vibration in response to a paper put together by a group of wind industry noise consultants – including its most vicious defender, Geoff Leventhall – titled ‘Health Effects from Wind Turbine Low Frequency Noise & Infrasound: Do Wind Turbines Make People Sick? That Is the Issue. Sound & Vibration, 34-44 – available here: http://www.sandv.com/downloads/1701hess.pdf

Sound & Vibration
Attn: Jack K. Mowry, George Fox Lang
Wednesday, 05 April 2017

Dear Editors,

With reference to a recent paper “Health Effects From Wind Turbine Low Frequency Noise & Infrasound” by George Hessler, Geoff Leventhall, Paul Schomer and Bruce Walker in the Jan 2017 edition of “Sound and Vibration” magazine.

I write my reply to the paper as member of the public whose wife happens to be very sensitive to the intrusive pulsating low frequency noise emissions from industrial wind turbines. Her personal experience sheds a lot more light on answering this question than the paper did. And I firmly believe that my account of her experience can help identify other topics of research to further knowledge in this field of acoustics, as well as eventually get a better understanding of how pulsing low frequency noise can detrimentally affect health.

The authors sought to answer the question, “Do wind turbines make people sick?” by seeking to determine if wind turbine infrasound and/or low frequency noise had an effect on health and concluded:

“Infrasound (IS, 0-20 Hz) from wind turbines can almost be ruled out as a potential mechanism for stimulating motion sickness symptoms. But to be thorough and complete, we recommend that one or two relatively simple and relatively inex¬pensive studies be conducted to be sure no infrasound pathways to the brain exist other than through the cochlea. Pending the results of these studies, we feel that no other IS or LFN criteria are required beyond an acceptable A-weighted level.”

I was very disturbed by this conclusion for 2 reasons:

  1. The paper has not adequately addressed the question it sought to answer – it failed miserably. Even though Low Frequency Noise formed part of the title of the paper, the possible effects of wind turbine LOW frequency noise on health was not even addressed in the conclusions, and only touched upon in the discussions.
  2.  The authors essentially profess to not knowing for certain if infrasound induces motion sickness, yet they still think that the use of A-weighted levels should continue. How incredulous and unethical to make such a suggestion when they profess they don’t know for certain if infrasound can induce feelings of nausea.

In summary, the conclusions of this paper, in light of the question it sought to answer, along with the omission of Dr Neil Kelley’s research for NASA/DOE in the 1980’s (to mention just one alternative source or research) by the authors, raises questions in my mind concerning the scientific validity of this paper.

The conclusion also contradicts the joint and independent conclusions made in the Shirley Wind Farm report (“A Cooperative Measurement Survey and Analysis of Low Frequency and Infrasound at the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County, Wisconsin,” Report Number 122412-1), made by three of the contributing authors, who also contributed to this report.

The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry. What new research, if any, let to this contradictory conclusion?

In the case of my wife, Bev, the answer to the posed question is, “They can and DO make some people sick – Very sick,” even at a considerable distance from the noise source.” And chronic exposure to this noise has INDUCED, in her, a hypersensitivity to the pulsating low frequency noise. This now excludes her from living in most areas of Wales, and many other parts of the UK due to the wide geographic spread and continued proliferation of industrial wind turbines. That is the reality of the situation Bev is now faced with. She was finally driven out of her home last year and can’t return – she is Homeless … she is a wind turbine REFUGEE. It’s a very grim outlook for her in particular, as well as for me.

I make no apology for the length of my letter for I feel it provides unique information to help further the knowledge of acoustic professionals concerning the propagation of pulsating low frequency noise emitted by distant wind turbines and its effect on people sensitive to such a noise. It identifies a number of areas for further research to advance knowledge in the field of acoustics.

The author’s conclusions present them, and other members of their profession, with a dilemma. What do you do about all those people who experience unwanted, often unpleasant sensations, or even fall ill when the wind turbines operate? Denying that these sensations can be perceived, and insinuating that the illnesses are caused by psychosomatic processes, may address some academic interest but does nothing to help the people whose lives are changed for the worse?

Do you continue to continue to facilitate government policy of expanding the wind power industry by continuing to apply inadequate noise assessment protocols set down by higher authorities, or do you adhere to the code of ethics of your professional bodies, such as INCE and the IOA?

For many in your profession it is, essentially, a conflict of interests. Is it morally and ethically acceptable for an acoustic professional to:

  • accept a few pieces of silver from wind industry companies, when their favourable reports inadvertently serve to destroy the lives and livelihoods of so many wind turbine neighbours?
  • condemn increasing numbers of wind turbine neighbours to years of exposure to an instrument of torture – noise – and years of purgatory, when those that facilitate the developments do not, or are not prepared to live under such conditions?

Many people’s lives are blighted by wind turbine noise – they are ill, and their homes are worthless. They cannot sell up and move … they are TRAPPED. Would YOU want to live under such conditions? You should think very carefully before you risk condemning even 1 other human being to endure years of torture.

Bev’s experience of sensitivity and induced hypersensitivity to a pulsating intrusive low frequency noise demonstrates that noise sensitivity can be compared with an allergy. The more the affected person is exposed to the trigger substance, the more extreme the reaction to the substance becomes. Similarly for exposure to intrusive pulsing low frequency noise in Bev’s case.

People can avoid an allergen (trigger substance), such as a peanut, by not ingesting it. However, noise sensitised people CANNOT stop hearing or being exposed to pulsating Low frequency noise – they can only move away from the source – FAR away. And the intrusive noise is omnipresent – it spreads far and wide from the source, in ALL directions.

This presents a serious and growing dilemma for acoustic professionals (and to the wind industry and politicians), which needs to be addressed: In the case of pulsed low frequency wind turbine noise emissions – people like Bev are excluded from being able to live in good health in large swathes of the country.

Bev CAN hear the intrusive pulsing noise and she CAN’T escape it without moving many miles away from any wind turbine. She can also feel it vibrating her body. That is a very disturbing consequence of the wide geographic spread of industrial wind turbines. The question is, “Is that dilemma morally AND socially acceptable?” I say not.

Further comments:

Based on over 9 years of investigations and observations concerning Bev’s experience of a pulsating low frequency/ infrasound noise pollution, I consider that:

  1. the possibility of wind turbine noise in the low frequency spectrum being a trigger for inducing annoyance in people needs further research before the authors are in a professional and ethical position to recommend maintaining A-weighted levels for assessing wind farm noise emissions;
  2. having acknowledged that some people are badly affected by wind turbine noise pollution, without truly know why, the joint conclusions of the authors are not in keeping with the Code of Ethics of their various professional noise control institutes to which they belong;
  3. a number of Dr Leventhall’s opinions and conclusions are misleading and incorrect. Bev’s personal experience of sensitivity to pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise support my position. I will expand on these later.

Whilst I am very critical of the paper, its conclusions and many of Leventhall’s opinions, I do welcome the recommendations for further testing, and I offer even more suggestions for further research in light of my findings.

Bev has been forced to endure nearly 10 years of chronic exposure to an intrusive, pulsating low frequency noise which culminated with her enforced departure from her home last year – very shortly after a single 74m 800 kW wind turbine was commissioned 3km (1.9 miles) from our home. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Our observations corroborate the key findings in the NASA led research (1979-2008), headed by Dr Neil Kelley – which I note that the authors have not referred to. Primarily:

  • A low frequency noise being louder indoors than outdoors
  •  The ability of some people to feel the vibrations of the acoustic energy
  • Health progressively deteriorating with increased exposure time to a pulsating low frequency noise.

Dr Kelly advised the wind industry, at the Windpower ‘87 conference, that the use of A-weighted levels would not provide adequate protection to wind farm neighbours, yet the wind industry chose to ignore this advice 30 years ago, and continues to do so to this day … Why?

Background:

Bev started hearing an inexplicable intrusive, disturbing pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise in Dec 2006, immediately on returning home from a trip abroad. This noise was not there prior to our departure. For a long time she thought it was planes overhead. Other friends later confirmed that they could also hear the mysterious intrusive noise and stated that it was not emitted by planes.

Some 2 years later someone suggested that a wind farm might be the source of the intrusive low frequency noise pollution – something we hadn’t even considered since we were so far from any wind farms. I investigated that possibility with an open and sceptical mind and discovered that a wind farm was commissioned in the autumn of 2006 – 24 miles (39 km) from our home. All our acquaintances started hearing the intrusive noise around the same time – after commissioning of the distant wind farm. Was this all a coincidence? Perhaps.

I started with the hypothesis that the intrusive low frequency noise that Bev could hear might possibly emitted by the distant wind farm, and proceeded to make observations which would either debunk or support my hypothesis.

All our observations added more weight to my hypothesis. Namely:

  • Every time the wind came from the general direction of the distant wind farm Bev heard a pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise.
  • The pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise was at it’s loudest during a spell of cold winter weather. The prevailing meteorological conditions were cold temperatures, sunny skies, a stable high pressure system, together with a SE-SSE wind all seemed to combine to make the pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise most intense according to Bev’s perception.
  • Whenever the wind blew from other directions, Bev could not hear the pulsating low frequency noise that intermittently bothered her.

I continued my observations to see if any could negate my hypothesis, but have found none. I also sought out other possible explanations for the mysterious intrusive noise – I’ve yet to find one.

Analysis of a noise recording (10Hz – 20kHz frequency spectrum), made inside our home in June 2009 (when Bev perceived the low frequency noise to be loud and intrusive), showed that the most intense noise in our home was in the infrasound spectrum (12.5, 16 and 20 Hz 1/3rd octave bands). See the chart on P11 in the supporting file, Unexplained LFN V3 2014 for distribution.pdf, accompanying my letter to the WHO. The nearest operating wind farm at the time of the recording was 24 miles (39km away), as measured by Google Earth. The recording posed several questions:

  • Was the distant wind farm the source of infrasound/ low frequency noise? With the subsequent proliferation of other wind farms closer to home we probably will never be able to answer that question now.
  •  If the noise WAS emitted by the distant wind farm, what noise frequency spectrum is capable of travelling that distance and still able to be audible and disturbing to some humans?
  • Was Bev hearing noise in the infrasound spectrum, or somewhere in the low frequency spectrum? … We don’t know because we don’t have the equipment to test Bev’s low frequency noise hearing range and sensitivity.

Following commissioning of wind farms closer to home (Sept 2009 – 10 turbines 8.5 miles/ 13km away) and July 2013 (15 turbines 13 miles/ 20km away) the frequency and duration of the pulsating low frequency Bev’s health deteriorated progressively. We therefore hypothesised that chronic exposure to the pulsating intrusive low frequency noise was responsible for her deteriorating health, and that noise was emitted by numerous surrounding wind farms.

In July 2013 she became very ill for over 1 month, very shortly after the 3rd wind farm was commissioned – a fact we only discovered some time later. This commissioning coincided with a stable high pressure system that lasted for over a month. When the weather system broke down the intensity of the pulsating infrasound/ low frequency noise diminished, and Bev’s health slowly improved over a 10 -14 day period.

In June 2016, following nearly 10 years of chronic exposure to pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise Bev was finally driven from our home only 2.5 weeks after a single 74m 800kW wind turbine was commissioned 3km (1.9 miles) from our home – she became so ill so quickly, it elicited a flight response in her – I saw the fear in her eyes. This was so different to the happy bubbly person who returned briefly 3 weeks later. She was badly affected by the noise AND the vibrations running through her body.

Now she is now a homeless wind turbine refugee, dependant on the generosity of family and friends to allow her a place to stay in the campervan she acquired in order to have somewhere to sleep in peace. Since being forced to leave her pulsating infrasound/ low frequency noise infested home, she has regained her health – and the recovery took months. It is only with the passing of time, since fleeing her home, does she now realised how badly chronic exposure to wind farm pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise had affected her health.

Ill health had gradually crept up on her. What she’s had to endure over the past 9+ years was a death by a thousand cuts. Whether the effect on her health was caused by direct (physiological responses) or indirect (stress responses), or a combination of both is immaterial – the outcome is the same. And wind turbine noise emissions were responsible in our opinion.

Following is a statement she wrote to me in a recent email when I enquired about her health:

“Ohh goodness … information/news/observations about how I’m feeling now I’m away from the LFN. Well, where to start!!! I feel better than I have in many years. I thought I was getting old, I felt old. Everything was such hard work & I had no energy all the time. I had aches everywhere. I felt old. I’m feeling soo much better now, loads of energy, bright & sparkly again. Back to the old me. I’ve not had so much energy in years. I did not realise how badly even the distant LFN, I mean when it was 24 miles away, must have been affecting me. When Betws went up & I was ill for a month, that was awful. Really terrible. Being away from them is like being rejuvenated … that is not too strong for how I’m feeling now.”

Comments on some of Dr Leventhall’s opinions:

I must comment on several of Leventhall’s statements in order to establish my position. Leventhall is quite correct in his view:

“We all have our preferred beliefs. When there is a choice, we tend to believe what we wish to believe.”

With no background in acoustics I had no prior knowledge of the subject, nor any preconceived ideas on what outcome(s) to expect when I started my investigations. I sought to keep an open mind and adhere to basic scientific principles – to develop and explore hypotheses and formulate opinions based on observations, made in conjunction with Bev’s perceptions of the intrusive low frequency noise she was able to hear. By following this process I formulated my initial working hypothesis and formulated other hypotheses over time. I had no preconceived “beliefs” at the outset and had no idea that low frequency noise could travel so far and lose so little energy, nor any idea that noise could induce building resonance from such a distance. Over time I also found a number of research documents which corroborated our observations.

Whilst reading the paper, I noticed all of the references Leventhall quoted in the paper support the opinions he expressed in this paper. This also led me to pose the question, “Why has Leventhall consistently ignored the 9 years of NASA led field and laboratory research from 1979-1988 headed by Dr Kelley?” In fact, when Leventhall published a literature review for the UK govt (“A Review of Published Research on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects” – 2003) he did not even mention or reference the 9 years of NASA led research headed by Dr Kelley … an omission I find baffling in light of my own discoveries.

Nor has Leventhall referenced the 10 years of current research by Castelo Branco, Alves-Pereira et al into the devastating effects of wind farm noise pollution on a family in Portugal which culminated in a legal victory for the affected family (Castelo Branco et al: EuroNoise 2015, “Low Frequency Noise-Induced Pathology: “Contributions Provided by the Portuguese Wind Turbine Case”).

Omissions of important research such as these raise a question in my mind: “Is Leventhall ignoring research which does not reflect his long held opinions?”

Concerning Dr Leventhall’s view:

“there is no established evidence that the inaudible infrasound from wind turbines affects health”

This statement contradicts the joint conclusions reached by the other 3 authors of the paper, who also contributed to the Shirley Wind Farm report. Below are several excerpts from the report:

“The four investigating firms are of the opinion that enough evidence and hypotheses have been given herein to classify LFN and infrasound as a serious issue, possibly affecting the future of the industry.” (Joint conclusion)

and

“At most locations where these health problems occurred, the wind turbines were generally not audible. That is, these health problems are devoid of noise problems and concomitant noise annoyance issues.” (Schomer’s Appendix)

and

“The measurements at Shirley have clearly shown that low frequency infrasound is clearly present and relevant. A-weighting is totally inadequate and inappropriate for description of this infrasound.” (Schomer’s Appendix)

and

“The only range of frequencies capable of creating an identical level throughout an enclosed structure are frequencies with wavelengths significantly larger than the size of the enclosed volume (the house). This points to the lower infrasonic frequency range below 10 Hz. This is consistent with the nauseogenic hypothesis for a driving force near 0.2 Hz and, the highest sound levels which were measured in the range of 0.2-0.4 Hz” (Rand’s Appendix).

What new evidence, if any, has contributed to the three authors’ conflicting conclusions between the two papers?

Leventhall’s opinion also does not exclude the possibility that industrial wind turbine noise pollution emissions in the low frequency spectrum may damage health. Discussions between Leventhall, Schomer and Walker indicated that noise emissions in the 40-50 Hz spectrum may be a contributing factor in triggering disturbance in people, and this area needs to be researched before they have the data to back their recommendation that A-weighted levels should continue to be applied to wind farm noise assessments.

I personally know of 2 properties blighted by wind farm noise in very different locations (Wales and Scotland), that have identified a strong tone of around 50Hz in their noise recordings, so there may be some merit in investigating noise emissions in the low frequency noise spectrum to determine if excessive exposure to wind turbine low frequency noise could inflict damage to health.

Concerning Leventhall’s conclusion: Audible wind turbine noise acts through annoyance and stress, which may lead to poor sleep quality:

  • What research or evidence did Leventhall draw on to conclude that stress and annoyance lead to sleep deprivation?
  • Has he considered the possibility that it might be sleep deprivation leading to stress?
  • If so, how could he differentiate between the 2 possibilities?

How does Bev’s experience relate to the paper?

Bev’s health started to progressively deteriorate only AFTER she started hearing a pulsing infrasound/low frequency noise. Every time she went away for a break, her health started recovering after a few days, and every time she returned her health soon deteriorated again – very quickly. This suggested an environmental factor – and one doctor was of the same opinion. These observations add weight to my 2nd hypothesis that her illness is probably caused by chronic exposure to pulsing infrasound and low frequency noise emitted by industrial wind turbines.

Concerning Leventhall’s opinion on the stress response: Leventhall claims, that the stress response is the underlying cause of health problems in people living near wind farms.

Does stress provide a complete answer, or only a partial answer in the development of detrimental health issues? How does his opinion explain the well established findings that the same group of symptoms appear over and over again in wind farm neighbours in totally different parts of the world, and in different climatic conditions – even in countries where people don’t even speak English?

The consistency of the same group of symptoms pose a number of questions which I find difficult to be adequately explained by Leventhall’s opinions, and these should form the basis of further research:

1. Do people subjected to other stress stimuli exhibit the same stress symptoms as those exposed to pulsating low frequency wind turbine noise, in particular symptoms of nausea and dizziness?

2. How can we identify which symptoms are triggered by physiological and/or stress responses.

3. Can we identify any symptoms, triggered by stress and/or physiological stimuli, which are specific to low frequency/ infrasound noise emissions from industrial wind turbines (and other low frequency noise sources)

4. Why does Bev only get bouts of severe dizziness and nausea when she perceives the pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise as being particularly intense?

5. What mechanism(s) enabled her health to gradually recover in 2013, over a period of 10-14 days, immediately after the intensity of the pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise diminished following a change in the weather?

Even if a stress response is triggered by pulsing low frequency wind turbine noise, Bev’s personal experiences hint to the possibility that at least one or more of her symptoms might be a direct physiological response to a yet unidentified stimulus – the difficulty will be identifying the stimulus, and that needs to be researched as a matter of priority.

Whether Bev’s symptoms present as a result of a direct or indirect response, or a combination of both is immaterial to her … her life has been stolen from her. If industrial wind turbines hadn’t in been installed our area, she would still be living in her own home and enjoying better health and a better quality of life.

Concerning Leventhall’s opinion on Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT):
Quoting Leventhall:

“Tracing and controlling noise sources must always be the highest priority, but it is proper to consider some interim means of relieving the problems of complainants.”
(Leventhall, Robertson et al., 2012).

i.e. Leventhall considered CBT an interim process for providing some relief, and stated that controlling the noise source was the highest priority for providing relief from the noise.

Bev tried ignoring and drowning out the intrusive noise. Her efforts were reasonably effective for a little while but as the persistence and level of, pulsating low frequency noise pollution increased, the intrusiveness of the noise became impossible to ignore.

Has Leventhall conducted a similar study to test the efficacy of CBT on people chronically exposed to impulsive low frequency wind turbine noise for 5 or more years? How effective is CBT in cases of long term exposure to amplitude modulated noise?

Concerning Leventhall’s insinuations that psychosomatic processes cause ill health: Leventhall insinuates that the proliferation of health concerns has been fuelled by protesting groups espousing fears of the possible reaction to infrasound and low-frequency noise.

How many of the 2000 wind farm protest groups on https://quixoteslaststand.com/, referred to by Leventhall, were active in 1979 when some residents around Boone, North Carolina first complained of vibrations, noise and feeling unwell shortly after the single NASA designed wind turbine started operating? These first known complaints led to the 9 years of field and lab research headed by Dr Neil Kelley. What protest group(s) instilled fear of the potential effects of infrasound and/or low frequency noise in THOSE residents?

Leventhall also suggested that health problems may be attributed to Prof Simon Chapman’s posited Nocebo effect. Was this the true cause of the complaints some residents around Boone, North Carolina? Such psychosomatic insinuations are grossly insulting and disparaging to Bev and all the other victims who are genuinely suffering. They only serve to trivialize their health problems, as well as further raise stress levels in noise blighted victims.

Bev’s personal experiences completely debunk all of Leventhall’s psychosomatic processes:

  • Despite the symptoms afflicting Bev, we can’t see any wind turbines from our home.
  • She started suffering health problems long before we knew anything of the possibility of harm caused by wind turbine generated infrasound and/or low frequency noise over short distances, let alone longer range distances.
  • Early protest groups in our area knew nothing of any potential harm which might be caused by wind turbine noise and so did not use health concerns in their campaigning.
  • After the single wind turbine started operating 3km from our home, Bev could hear and feel the rhythmic thumps. Within 2.5 weeks she abandoned her home. I hypothesise that she could hear the blade passing the tower, but I could not verify that without being able to simultaneously observe the wind turbine operating – an impossible task with an opaque hill obstructing our view.

I now present an alternative opinion to Leventhall’s, based on my own observations. Perhaps the proliferation in the number of reports of health problems in wind farm neighbours is closely linked, or even directly related to the increase in numbers of wind turbines. This could another topic for research.

I, personally, have spoken to several people living within a few miles of a wind farm, who are suffering deteriorating health since the wind turbines became operational. These people never attributed their health problems to the operation of the wind turbines and were completely oblivious to the potential health problems that might be caused by low frequency and/or infrasound noise emissions from wind turbines and their doctors were baffled by their symptoms.

Contrary to Leventhall’s derogatory opinion that people like me help spread fear and therefore induce psychosomatic health problems, when I informed these people of what the source of the problem might possibly be, there was a great sense of relief because they now realised they were not going mad or perhaps suffering from a mysterious degenerative condition. Especially since they also developed some of the same symptoms that Bev had developed. Bev was similarly relieved to discover that the noise she could hear was very real – she thought she might be going mad prior to witnessing the noise recording in our home in June 2009.

I also suggest to Leventhall that persistent denials and espousing of misinformation by the wind industry, in conjunction with their continued refusal to have the noise emissions of their machines tested for safety, have contributed to fuelling the stress levels in victims blighted by wind turbine noise emissions. I also suggest that cursory investigations and subsequent lack of enforcement action by regulatory authorities probably also play a role in elevating stress levels in noise blighted people, since they can get no respite from the noise causing them such distress.

All the wind industry has to do to quash what they deem “spurious” adverse health claims is to have the noise emissions of their machines tested for safety by an independent and impartial third party. I invite the wind industry to do so, for only they are in a position to quash what they deem “spurious” adverse health claims.

Summary:

The paper has not adequately addressed the question it sought to answer. This, together with the omission of other bodies of important research raises questions in my mind concerning the scientific validity of this paper.

There are conflicting conclusions between this report and that of the “Shirley Wind Farm” report. Three of the four authors contributed to both reports. On what new evidence do they now express different conclusions concerning the possible effects of infrasound on health?

The growing number of complaints concerning health problems, made by wind farm neighbours around the world, are testimony that use of A-weighted levels (plus other protocols) in assessing wind turbine noise emissions are inadequate for protecting the health and amenities of many wind farm neighbours. Kelley reported this finding to the wind industry in 1987. Based on the incomplete answer of the opening question, I find the authors’ recommendation for the continued use of A-weighted noise levels to assess wind turbine noise emissions, utterly incredulous and unethical.

To coin an analogy … if an engineer built a bridge or building that collapsed, would he/she build the exact same design again? Probably not. However, that is essentially the principle the authors have adopted by recommending to maintain the use of inadequate noise measuring procedures (i.e. the use of A-weighted noise levels and other protocols) used to facilitate installation of industrial wind turbines, to the detriment of many who are condemned to live in their acoustic shadows.

I also suggest, in light of the authors’ discussions, that wind turbine noise emissions in the 40-50 Hz spectrum, or perhaps a broader range of lower noise frequencies, might be a potential trigger for disturbance, and that this is an area requiring further research.

I have identified:

  • that atmospheric conditions can play a huge role in the efficient propagation of wind turbine low frequency noise and infrasound over considerable distances, and that the noise can still inflict harm on sensitive individuals at greater distances than many “experts” ever thought possible;
  • that the low frequency noise is louder indoors than outdoors (which is a good indication of building resonance in a limited infrasound/ low frequency spectrum);
  • that for noise sensitive individuals like Bev, who can hear noise emissions in the low frequency spectrum, as well as feel vibrations pummelling her body, that the only true method of mitigating exposure to pulsing low frequency wind turbine noise emissions is DISTANCE.

These factors also need to be taken into consideration in drawing up effective wind turbine noise assessment protocols for the wind industry. Given that Bev (and others) can feel the vibrations, I suggest it would be inappropriate to continue using filtered noise levels. Only unweighted noise levels will give a true indication of the intensity of the acoustic energy striking a human body.

Bev’s personal experiences debunk a number of Leventhall’s psychosomatic opinions as being causal factors for inducing ill health in noise blighted wind farm neighbours.

Outcome and Outlook for Noise Sensitive Individuals like Bev under current noise assessment protocols: Whether Bev’s progressively worsening health symptoms were triggered by direct or indirect stimuli, or a combination of both, is immaterial to her – the outcome is the same:

  • she has been victimised, through no fault of her own, because she happens to be sensitive to the pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise emissions from industrial wind turbines;
  • she is now homeless – she is a wind turbine REFUGEE;
  • she’s had to abandon her husband (me) and all her beloved pets;
  • she’s had to give away or burn most of her possessions – she had nowhere to keep them;
  • she has had to move away from her social network of friends and family – far away from an area she has lived for over 30 years;
  • she has been forced to live an itinerant life out of a small campervan with the generosity and support of family and a few distant friends;
  • through chronic exposure to the pulsing low frequency noise she is now has INDUCED hypersensitivity to that intrusive noise;
  • the prevalence and widespread expansion of industrial wind turbines therefore excludes her from being able to live in good health in most of Wales and in many other parts of the UK – that is a terrifying prospect for her;
  • she had less human rights living at home than suspected or convicted terrorists have;
  • there are 5 wind turbines presently under construction near her current place of refuge – how much longer can she remain there? And where can she flee to next?

There is no support or compensation available for Bev and other people in a similar plight – they have been thrown onto the sacrificial altar of the Wind Gods … for the alleged “good” of the majority, for the benefit of the Wind God Worshipers and investors, and to save the skins of politicians who will never admit to backing the wrong horse.

Bev’s plight is a very damning reflection of the wind power industry and those people who continue to facilitate its growth – including numerous acoustic engineers, government officials and members of regulatory bodies who are supposed to help protect the health of noise blighted people. In light of the mounting reports of serious harm being inflicted on wind farm neighbours, there is no professional or moral excuse for acoustic professionals to blindly follow government policy and adhere to inadequate noise assessment protocols for wind turbine developments. Many wind farm neighbours are living in HELL – they are ill yet they cannot move. They are TRAPPED. I know … I communicate with some of them.

The outlook for very bleak for Bev and other noise sensitised victims, their health and wellbeing MUST be considered when developing effective noise assessment protocols for noise emissions from industrial wind turbines. A lot more work needs to be done to develop effective protocols for the wind industry so that people’s health is safeguarded and enable people to enjoy the use of their amenities. I have made suggestions to this effect.

I agree that a lot more work needs to be done to establish a cause and effect between pulsing infrasound/ low frequency noise pollution emissions from industrial wind turbines and reported health problems. This can only be done if a multi-disciplinary research approach is undertaken. In my letter I have identified a number of topics for further research which would contribute further knowledge and better understanding in this area.

Until such an approach is undertaken the impasse will continue, and even more wind farm neighbours will be sacrificed to the Wind Gods in the future – as Bev and others already have been. It should be the wind industry’s responsibility to prove that their machines are safe, as I have stated above. If the wind industry declines to carry out any such independent testing, I can only conclude that the wind industry has something to hide.

EG (BSc Biol.Geol)
Wales
UK

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Crispin Trist says:

    Industrial scale wind turbines are human rights shredders.

    Wind turbines recorded at a home in Cape Bridgewater, Australia.

    And this is just the audible noise!

  2. Noel Dean says:

    Wind Farms in Victoria are unsafe because the sound people are exposed to does not get measured at all in a complaint investigation, required by permit, the reason for this is so to prevent that the true sound pressure level being exposed.

    There is a major difference between wind farm noise, and wind farm sound.

    Wind farm noise is generated by air pressure trough to peak change cause by operating wind turbines which happens with the change in pressure from turbine blades rotating past the tower, like that of the trough to peak change in the waves formed in the ocean. These waves do NOT travel at the speed of sound and the trough to peak occurrence is of low frequency, where as the wind farm sound is the content of the noise heard, the sound frequencies measured in the noise heard travel at the speed of sound.

    Noise is what is heard SACs as in the likes of swooshing, rumble thump and or noise similar to ocean waves. These noise pulses like waves from the ocean does NOT happen at the speed of sound, the swooshing of the blades at about 1 per second is a infrasound rate, but the sound as measured within the noise as can be as high as 20,000 hz, air pressure noise that is heard consists of some low frequency sound and a lot of high frequency sound.

    My conclusions are based on my eight years of scientific research, which involved observation, assessment and measurement of the sound present when I and others get a pain in neck, head, chest, stomach and/or other parts of the body.

    Measurement is required by law at any windfarm when any one person makes a complaint, regardless of the interpretation of the planning permit conditions. But against international accepted standards, which is to the same as Victorian EPA, being the equivalent to continuous sound pressure level (ambient sound pressure level while turbines are operating). This also includes assessment of SAC, both to be done for all of the night time period against LAeq 40dBA level or background (ambient sound pressure level without turbines operating this is usually done prior to issuing of permit) plus 5dBA whichever is the greater. Unfortunately this measurement does not get done in Victoria for wind farm developments but is done for Gas power stations, which makes living within 7 Kms of turbines dangerous going by my observations tabled at the LAL LAL wind farm amendment Hearing 11/11/2016.

    The dangerous and unsafe conditions comes from the change in air pressure identified in reports provided to the Victorian Planning department in 2010, and 2014 by myself.

    My investigations in the last 3 years tells me that air pressure change has a big effect on high frequency sound, which I believe caused Acoustic Startle Reflex trauma to my body, more specifically pain in the back of the neck, this causes clamp want shut jaws, poor balance, inability to sleep rest or play because of the inability to move freely. I have taken actions to manage the sensitivity of these high frequency sounds and to relieve muscle tension in the neck with goods results. While I still suffer internal pain I am now able to do more activities and be more productive, and am mostly free of the constant pain in the head.

    The Acoustic Startle reflex trauma I believe is brought about by the sudden increase of high frequency sounds created by air compression. These sounds are about one tenth to one twentieth of a second when the sound is increased from about 10 dBA to 40 dBA this sound change is sensed by the brain which the goes into fright and flight response because it enters into your hearing range for only a very short period. Test data taken by ACCIONA’s Acoustic experts recorded in excess of 110 dBA, putting their meter in overload a number of times inside of our house, to me this is a dangerous and unsafe sound pressure level for my family to endure. These high spikes were also observed using explosion test equipment at our property. These spikes came from three different directions.

    What I am saying is the problem is the Sound pressure variations in the noise. The problems can be identified in the Independent international wind test results, but unfortunately although they are deemed to be publicly available information to be made available prior to wind farm hearings they are NOT. I believe this is because the Manufacturers like ACCIONA have requested a deviation from the international noise standard and are being withheld with the blessing of Victorian wind farm panels from windfarm hearings in Victoria to prevent this deviation being used as evidence to prevent windfarm approvals. This information was provided to me from Victorian PLanning Minister Guy’s Office nearly 5 years ago.

    So what I am saying is that sound emissions can be measured using LAeq if done correctly as referenced in IEC 61400 standard identified in MDA post construction reports.

    MDA does NOT understand the wording of the above standard and the consequence is that there is NO measurement of equivalent continuous sound pressure levels being DONE ,which I believe is:

    A buse of Human Rights
    C ruel
    C owardice
    I mpediment of
    O bjective
    N oise
    A ssessment

    ACCIONA commissioned MDA at WAUBRA.

    Noel Dean

  3. E Griffiths says:

    Thank you for publishing my letter, STT.

    For the record, my letter was never acknowledged by S and V, and I requested that the letter be forwarded to all the contributing authors with an invitation to respond to my letter … I’ve received no responses whatsoever. No surprises there.

  4. Jackie Rovensky says:

    Ethical research is a concept some ‘researchers’ are unwilling to accept. They will continue to espouse that wind turbine produced IF and LFN are safe just because to admit they are wrong is completely alien to them, to do so would show their preceding work was not undertaken or assessed in a thorough manner or even in an unbiased manner. This would mean presenting themselves as inadequate researchers and not up to the job.
    Can we ever expect to see any of these entrenched industry supporting ‘researchers’ and their complicit acousticians admitting to be inadequate, thereby placing themselves on the employment rubbish heap?
    No, so the only thing we can do is ask those researchers and acousticians who do understand the meaning off and abide by the concept of ethics to undertake the work and speak out loudly so those suffering so badly can be vindicated.
    We know they exist we have seen what an impact such people can have.
    There is more research being undertaken and published and more academics, doctors and Politicians ready to speak out against an industry that has managed to create a hold on Governments around the world by using scare tactics and extreme hard sales pitching, without ever having to prove what they are selling is safe, reliable and cost effective.
    We need to support those who speak out whether they are Professionals in fields that can prove the failings of this industry or those suffering by applying more and more pressure to those who can stop this nightmare.

  5. No Turbines says:

    What an astonishing backflip by Schomer, Walker and Hessler! They were all involved in the Shirley Wind Farm Study with a fourth acoustic expert, Robert Rand. During that Study, Robert Rand reported his own ill-effects “headache and/or nausea while testing and severe effects for 3+ days after testing”. It’s obvious that some people find wind turbine noise particularly debilitating and this needs to be properly investigated.

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