The Waubra Foundation is a national Australian organisation, originally formed in March 2010 by Peter Mitchell AM (Engineer, and former President of the National Stroke Foundation) to
“facilitate properly conducted, independent multidisciplinary research into the new health problems identified by residents living near wind turbines and other industrial sites which may have common cause”.
Our focus of attention on infrasound, low frequency noise (ILFN) and vibration as direct causal agents of mental and physical health problems has expanded to include a range of industrial noise sources, including industrial machinery, fans, compressors and turbines used in coal, gas and wind power generation, underground and above ground mining, field compressors and other machinery used for gas extraction, and urban sources including large compressors from supermarkets and data centres, as well as domestic smart meters.
We now understand that the source of the noise is much less important than the character of the noise itself, and that sound which is pulsing, and amplitude modulated is a particular problem for human physiology, and in particular, sleep. We now also understand that a fundamental underlying neurophysiological pathway is being activated, known as the “startle reflex” which is an involuntary neural reflex that does not involve higher cortical (brain) function. Repeated activation of the startle reflex can lead to progressive low frequency noise sensitisation, where people become increasingly more sensitive to lower sound levels.
Once sensitised to one source of low frequency noise, people will then predictably react to other noise sources which previously they could tolerate. Research from long before the Foundation was formed indicates that these impacts were studied and described by scientists and acousticians such as Dr Neil Kelley and his colleagues at NASA in the 1980’s, and even earlier when an astute British Clinical Psychologist Charles Byers described the observed and reported devastating impacts of repeated exposure to pulsing artillery gun noise in 1915, in the Lancet,
Such impacts caused by sources of ILFN and vibration occur in both rural and urban environments, in occupational and residential settings. We have a particular interest in better understanding the effects of ILFN in quiet background noise environments at night, and the widely reported effects on sleep disruption, which has well accepted adverse health consequences.
Sources of ILFN include, but are not limited to, some mining activities (e.g. coal in the Upper Hunter Valley in New South Wales) and compressors used in gas fired power stations (e.g. Uranquinty, NSW, and Port Campbell, Victoria) and gas extraction (e.g. CSG field compressors at Tara, Queensland), air conditioners and refrigeration units (e.g. Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria), and data centres (Burwood, NSW).
We are committed to the prevention and control of diseases and adverse health effects caused by exposure to excessive industrial sound and vibration by:
- facilitating and, where possible, funding independent multidisciplinary peer reviewed research
- transparent and independent measurement of the full spectrum of sound energy inside the homes and workplaces of affected residents
- improvement of noise pollution regulation to adequately protect health
- improvement in planning regulations relating to industrial noise emitters
- educating health professionals, acousticians, governments, regulators, and the general community, and
- establishing and fostering networks of health and acoustic professionals to share information to increase collective understanding of the reported physical and mental health problems.
We are also committed to the protection of human rights which are or may be infringed by exposure to excessive industrial sound and vibration
The Waubra Foundation is a not-for-profit company, limited by guarantee. We are currently funded entirely from donations made by concerned citizens.
All our officers donate their time, including our Directors, Administrator and Chief Executive Officer.
Our information sharing policy
The knowledge of the Foundation is shared freely, unless the information has been provided to us in confidence. All bona fide requests for help and information are met to the best of our ability, with the limited personnel and financial resources we have available.
There is no charge for providing this information.
Sources of funding
We rely solely on donations from concerned individuals, almost all of whom are rural residents, to continue our work. We are aware of and very grateful to all our donors, but particularly to the pensioners from rural Australia who are choosing to donate part of their pensions so that the necessary independent acoustic monitoring and field research can occur.
Support the Foundation
We welcome donations in order to help us continue serving the national and international community. If you’d like to help the Foundation continue our important work, please choose your preferred method by clicking on this link http://waubrafoundation.org.au/about/donate/