Noise Matters: Why Wind Turbine Noise Drives Wind Farm Neighbours Nuts

Life next to industrial wind turbines is a living hell for far too many rural residents.

Practically incessant turbine-generated low-frequency noise and infra-sound drives neighbours nuts, preventing them from sleeping in – and otherwise enjoying the comforts of – their very own homes.

An Australian Court found long-term exposure to wind turbine noise to be a pathway to disease: Australian Court Finds Wind Turbine Noise Exposure a ‘Pathway to Disease’: Waubra Foundation Vindicated

The evidence proving the unnecessary damage done to wind farm neighbours by the noise generated by giant industrial wind turbines is mounting by the day: Germany’s Max Planck Institute has identified sub-audible infrasound as the cause of stress, sleep disruption and more (see our post here); and a Swedish group have shown that it’s the pulsing nature of low-frequency wind turbine noise  (‘amplitude modulation’) that is responsible for sleep problems in those forced to live with it (see our post here).

Making a mockery of planning rules that permit giant industrial wind turbines to be speared within a thousand metres or so of residential dwellings, a Finnish study reckons that the safe setback distance is more like 15,000m (see our post here).

In short, noise matters. And exposure to wind turbine noise is no exception.

The eminent and jolly Kiwi, Dr Bruce Rapley has been studying the effect of noise on health for decades. Bruce has gone to print with a fine compendium on the topic, which should be of keen interest to wind farm neighbours, among others.

Biological consequences of Low-Frequency Sound
Bruce Rapley
20 January 2018

Modern technological environments produce noise on a basis never before endured by humans, and there is increasing evidence of serious threats to human and animal health, according to author and scientist Dr Bruce Rapley.

Dr Rapley has written a book that shows how sound pollution from made-made technology is hurting humans. In Conversations for a Small Planet, Volume 3, Biological Consequences of Low-Frequency Sound, Dr. Rapley combines his broad knowledge of science and technology to examine and explain the adverse health effects of sound pollution from man-made technology. The most recent example of technological sound pollution comes from wind turbines. However, he is quick to stress that this is only one source of modern environmental sound pollution – there are many others. Yet with the rapid expansion of wind turbines across the globe, this new technology is presenting us with increasing evidence of a serious threat to human health.

Dr. Bruce Rapley is an applied biologist with a specialist interest and expertise in the area of environmental health, acoustics and cognition. Dr. Rapley has always had an interest in the effects of external energy on living systems. Much of his research career has been spent examining the effects of electromagnetic fields on biological systems ranging from the cytogenetics of plants to human health and applied medical research.

To set the scene, Dr. Rapley provides a comprehensive background of the underlying science that leads us to the understanding of how sound pollution can affect animals. From aquatic to terrestrial mammals to humans, the underlying physiology and anatomy explains why they all react adversely to certain sounds. Two poignant examples include badgers in England and mink in Denmark, the latter responding with aggressive behaviour leading to injury and death, as well as reduced fecundity, auto-abortions and the production of abnormal pups with severe, often fatal, birth-defects.

Critical to the overall understanding of the effects of environmental sound pollution is the working of the mammalian brain. Dr. Rapley explains, in simple language, how the brain developed through evolution and how this relates to psychoacoustics. The neurophysiology of the brain is responsible for the way it reacts to environmental sound, some of which can trigger detrimental physiological responses. The concept that sound is an information source, rather than just another form of ballistic energy, goes a long way to explaining what we are observing in human near neighbours of wind turbine installations.

That certain types of sound can produce a cascade of hormones that result in the “fight or flight” response is a critical step forward in understanding the importance of sound as a pollutant as well as a health hazard. This conclusion is the result of 20 years of research by Dr. Rapley and his international research team, culminating in a new pc-based technology that can monitor and analyse environmental sound from the perspective of an environmental pollutant: the SAM Technology – Soundscape Analysis and Monitoring.

In Volume 3 of the series, Conversations for a Small Planet, Dr. Rapley provides examples of soundscape analysis using the new SAM technology that clearly demonstrates why all low-frequency sound, and infrasound, is not equivalent. The sound from many of the industrial noise polluters is quite different to the natural soundscape of the ‘wind in the trees’ or a ‘babbling brook’, two examples proponents of various infrastructure often use to compare emissions.

Combined with his research for his PhD in Human Health and Acoustics with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), Dr. Rapley has a unique knowledge base and understanding of how sound in the environment can affect cognition (brain function – thinking processes) and physiological responses. That the human brain responds to subliminal sound is exemplified by the latest functional magnetic resonance imaging research from the German research team (Weichenberger et al. 2018). They conclude that: “Low-frequency sound (including infrasound) can, and does, affect the brain, at sound power levels below conscious perception”.

The Weichenberger study is the first to demonstrate that infrasound near the hearing threshold may induce changes of neural activity across several brain regions, some of which are known to be involved in auditory processing, while others are regarded as key players in emotional and autonomic control. These findings allow the researchers to speculate on how continuous exposure to subliminal infrasound could exert a pathogenic influence on the organism, such as are observed in humans and animals living in close proximity to wind turbine installations. Of critical importance to the public debate regarding health effects of wind turbines is that the Weichenberger research negates the so-called Nocebo Effect.

Dr. Rapley dedicates an entire chapter to explaining how sound is analysed before moving on to explain how sound is a natural information source for animals. That information source causes behaviour as well as deep, subconscious, physiological responses that can lead to adverse health outcomes. To understand the mechanisms involved, Dr. Rapley provides a clear, simple, explanation of the phenomenon of stochastic resonance and why this is critical to understanding animal response to subthreshold sound. Stochastic Resonance is a natural phenomenon whereby a normally sub-threshold signal (sound) can be detected when ‘noise’ is added to the signal.

Biological Consequences of Low-Frequency Sound, is written in a clear style and uncomplicated language that the lay reader can readily understand. The text is supplemented wtih 387 coloured images.

In the final two chapters, Dr. Rapley knits together the various strands of information, culminating with the latest German research. Biological Consequences of Low-Frequency Sound is a richly illustrated text in plain English that includes lots of laughs along the way as Dr. Rapley uses anecdotes to explain and simplify the complex science. This is a very readable book and one which is important as it alerts us as to the potential danger of our technology. It is a must-read for anybody concerned about the overall health of the planet and its inhabitants, both animal and human.

You can download a preview of the book to appreciate the writing style and consider purchasing a copy.

Congenial Kiwi, Dr Bruce Rapley (centre) on why noise matters.

About stopthesethings

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


  1. Reblogged this on Climate- Science and commented:
    Infrasound is extremly dangerous for human and animals. If you never had a heart- problem ifrasound will help to get one esaily.

  2. I now believe that a bill should be passed in the Australian Parliament to bring in ‘compulsory acquisition’ for properties in and around industrial scale wind energy facilities.

    Whilst I appreciate that it is not a perfect solution, it would at least give some residents the option to get out of harms way. In my opinion, the current state of affairs amounts to ‘government sanctioned harm’. And it is a situation that is set to get worse under the current Victorian State Labor Government and their destructive renewable energy policy. The evidence is building as to the damage these large scale wind energy plants are doing to rural and outer suburban communities.

    Thanks to STT for posting this article.

    And thanks to Keith Staff for forwarding the link below.

    Wind Turbine Noise: Real Impacts on Neighbors

    Lisa Linowes – March 1, 2019

    “The wind industry is heavily invested in a propaganda campaign aimed at convincing the public that wind turbine noise is safe at any distance. …but the damage from turbines can no longer be ignored. There are enough turbines operating worldwide, and enough people impacted, for the public to recognize turbine noise is intrusive and potentially harmful to neighbors.”

    • Forced relocation under the guise of ‘compulsory acquisition’ is what the wind companies and the government that ushered them in, want. This would achieve the U.N. Agenda 21/30 goal of further reducing the quality of life in rural regions around the world, in order to complete the migration of people to ‘human settlements’.
      We actually need the exact opposite to happen. We need a rural renaissance whereby towns and villages would be revitalized and people in the cities could move out to the country and get in touch with nature. The real environmental movement was hijacked. Rural people, calling for these turbines to be turned off, understand that honouring the interconnection of species is what real environmentalists consider when they’re stewarding the land they own in the countryside.

  3. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  4. I don’t live near a Wind Farm
    I just have continual noise

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