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Acoustic Pollution Assessment Requirements

March 2013

On behalf of the many people around the world, suffering acute and chronic health damage from living near wind turbines and other emitters of infrasound, low frequency noise and vibration, the Waubra Foundation demands that relevant authorities initiate:

  • full frequency spectrum acoustic monitoring inside and outside the homes and workplaces of people claiming health problems caused by the proximity of operating wind turbines or other low frequency noise and vibration polluters;
  • the monitoring must be conducted for sufficient time, under the weather and wind conditions indicated by victims as being contributive to their symptoms;
  • measurements must specifically include, infrasound and low frequency noise, (using dBLinear, dBC, as well as dBA) and in the case of wind turbines must use narrow band analysis.

The noise monitoring must be performed by accredited acousticians demonstrably independent of the noise polluting industry, approved by the sufferers, and in a manner that will avoid any deliberate manipulation of turbine operation or other noise polluting operations to reduce the acoustic emissions during testing. The results (including all the raw data and associated sound files) must be made available to all parties.

Wind turbine sound energy present but excluded by dBA

The figure above clearly demonstrates why using a dBA filter will not measure the total amount of sound energy present, (represented by the area under the solid thick blue line with the descriptor “Van den Berg 2006 Unweighted”) in the case of emissions from wind turbines. The blue shaded area represents the total wind turbine sound energy present, but not measured, by using dBA.

Using a dBA filter to measure wind turbine noise will omit low frequency noise (measured using dBC), and the total infrasound present (measured using dBLinear). Using dBG omits a significant portion of sound energy present at frequencies below 4Hz, and is clearly inaccurate below 10Hz.

The figure above came from the following journal article:

Salt, A.N. and Kaltenbach, J.A. (2011). Infrasound from Wind Turbines Could Affect Humans. Bulletin of Science, Technology and Science. (Aug 2011). 296–302.

The Rationale for These Demands

  • Most health practitioners are well aware of the links between chronic severe sleep deprivation1 chronic stress2 and poor physical and mental health. This is exactly what residents living near wind turbines are experiencing,3 together with other specific symptoms directly correlating with acute exposure to this sound energy.4,5,6,7
  • Knowledge of the damage to health from exposure to infrasound 8 and low frequency noise 9 (ILFN) has been known for many years. Despite this, little is known about the current exposure levels of residents to ILFN emissions from wind turbines inside their homes.
  • The link between chronic exposure to low frequency noise and chronic physiological stress, even when asleep, was clearly highlighted by Professor Leventhall et al in 2003.10
  • Most medical practitioners have been unaware of the problems associated with exposure to ILFN. This ignorance has not been helped by acousticians and others calling such problems “annoyance” without accurate clinical diagnoses.11
  • These symptoms have been reported to occur specifically with exposure to operating wind turbines by medical practitioners since 2003.12,13,14,15,16,17 Symptoms have been reported by acousticians, health practitioners and residents from countries including Denmark, Sweden, Germany, United Kingdom, France, United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
  • Symptoms have been reported historically up to 4km from the nearest wind turbine, and more recently characteristic symptom patterns have been reported at distances up 10km away from the nearest wind turbine.18 This is described especially with larger wind turbines (eg 3MW), and on occasions even further away, where turbines are sited at altitude19 or near expanses of water.
  • These health problems consistently worsen over time, until the exposure ceases. Families are being advised by their treating doctors to leave their homes in order to regain their health. Many have nowhere else to go, and cannot sell their homes, so they become homeless “wind farm refugees”. Others remain trapped, unable to move.20
  • Professors Moller and Pedersen, from the University of Aalborg in Denmark, have confirmed that larger more powerful wind turbines emit more low frequency sound waves as a proportion of their sound emissions.21 These emissions are known to easily penetrate through the walls, roofs, and windows of homes and workplaces, due to the lower transmission loss of low frequencies.
  • Recent acoustic survey work in the USA (Falmouth)22 and Australia (NSW)23 has confirmed that low frequency noise and pulsatile infrasound emitted by wind turbines have been measured inside the homes and workplaces of sick people, and occur when they are experiencing the symptoms of Wind Turbine Syndrome.
  • Currently governments around the world do not require measurement of the full sound and vibration spectrum, do not require measurement inside homes and workplaces, do not require evaluation of sleep or other disturbances, but instead limit almost all assessment to audible noise (dBA) only, outside homes and workplaces. 

Summary

The plight of people made ill by wind turbine and other sources of infrasound, low frequency and vibration acoustic pollution has been universally ignored by their respective governments.

The current noise assessment practices and standards are incompetent and unacceptable, and must be changed to include full spectrum acoustic monitoring inside and outside homes and workplaces as a matter of urgency.

References

  1. Capuccio F et al, “Sleep Duration predicts cardiovascular outcomes: a systemic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies” European Heart Journal, (2011) 32, 1484–1492
  2. McEwen, Bruce “Protective and Damaging Effects of Stress Mediators” New England Journal of Medicine 1998, 338 171–179
  3. Shepherd, Daniel et al “Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health-related quality of life” Noise & Health, September-October 2011, 13:54,333–9
  4. Pierpont, Dr Nina “Wind Turbine Syndrome, A report on a Natural Experiment” Published by K Selected Books, Santa Fe NM 2009
  5. McMurtry, Professor Robert “Toward a Case Definition of Adverse Health Effects in the Environs of Industrial Wind Turbines: Facilitating a Clinical Diagnosis” Bulletin of Science Technology and Society 2011 31:316
  6. Phillips, Prof Carl V “Properly interpreting the Epidemiological evidence about the health effects of Industrial Wind turbines on nearby residents” Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society vol 31 No 4 (August 2011) pp 303 – 315
  7. Leventhall, Benton & Pelmear May 2003, A report for DEFRA “A review of published Research on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects
  8. NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) November 2001, “Infrasound Brief Review of Toxicological Literature”
  9. Leventhall, Benton & Pelmear, May 2003 op cit
  10. Leventhall, Benton & Pelmear, May 2003 op cit Section 10
  11. Pederson & Waye, “Perception and Annoyance due to wind turbine noise – a dose-response relationship” in J Acous. Soc. Am. 116 (6) 2004 pp 3460–70
  12. Harry, Dr Amanda “Wind turbines, Noise and Health” 2007
  13. Iser, Dr David Brief report from 2004 survey, based on Dr Amanda Harry’s survey questionnaire
  14. Pierpont, Dr Nina op cit
  15. McMurtry, Professor Robert op cit
  16. Hanning, C & Evans, A “Wind turbine noise seems to affect health adversely; an independent review of evidence is needed.” BMJ 2012: 344 e 1527 http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wind-turbine-noise-editorial/
  17. Laurie, Dr Sarah Medical Director, Waubra Foundation, Submission to the Australian Federal Senate Inquiry into Rural wind Farms, February 2011
  18. Waubra Foundation Submission to the NSW Department of Planning, March 2012
  19. Personal communication, Hubert De Bonneville, see also http://www.windturbinesyndrome.com/2012/french-writer-going-nuts-from-wind-turbines-france/
  20. Waubra Foundation letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard
  21. Moller & Pedersen “Low Frequency Noise from Large Turbines” J Acoustical Society America 2011 129: 3727 – 3744
  22. Ambrose, Stephen & Rand, Robert “Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study” 2011
  23. Cooper, Steven “Review of Draft NSW Guidelines” March 2012

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