What Can I Do?
Many people describe feeling overwhelmed as well as being exhausted and increasingly unwell, before they realise that they are being adversely impacted by the sound and vibration energy.
If you’re concerned that the wind turbines, mining, field compressors or other sources of environmental noise (with infrasound, low frequency noise and/or vibration frequencies) may be having an effect on you or your family’s health, one way of seeing whether or not your concerns are justified is to start keeping a detailed journal or diary.
If that information can be combined with full spectrum acoustic measurements (including vibration if indicated) the concurrent resident data together with the acoustic survey information may help to determine whether or not the acoustic frequencies are directly causing the symptoms and sensations being experienced.
Why will keeping a journal help me?
Information recorded in your journal has a few important uses for yourself and others.
- Yourself – residents have also reported that keeping a journal can be very helpful for themselves, especially in the early days when they are not sure if their symptoms are related to noise exposure or not
- Your local health practitioners – you can use it to demonstrate a correlation between symptoms and noise exposure if there is one. If you are sleep deprived, your memory can be affected, which makes it all the more important that symptoms and problems are documented accurately.
- Acousticians – who can use it to investigate if any of the acoustic measurements are directly correlating with the times when you are experiencing and reporting symptoms characteristic of noise exposure. A useful example is the detailed instructions which Steven Cooper gave to the residents at Cape Bridgewater in the recent acoustic survey commissioned by Pacific Hydro at their Cape Bridgewater Wind Development, to investigate longstanding complaints of sleep disturbance and other adverse health effects from some local residents. The instructions and one of the resident’s handwritten templates can be downloaded at the end of this webpage.
- Lawyers – accurate and thorough documentation of symptoms with or without acoustic exposures may prove of assistance if there is subsequent litigation. It is very important to document what happens when you are not noise exposed, as well as when you are, so the comparison can be clearly seen.
How do I keep a journal?
What to record in:
You can record your journal in two ways:
- Exercise book – find an exercise book or something similar. Whatever it is, make sure you use this book only for recording your health data. That way everything is in the one place and it won’t be confused with other information.
- Computer spreadsheet – use a program like Microsoft Excel (or similar) and record your symptoms electronically. If you use this method, we recommend printing the spreadsheet or backing up the file every so often.
- Keep individual family members records separate, as everyone will be affected differently.
What to record:
- Blood pressure (if relevant)
- Heart rate (if relevant)
- Detailed description of symptoms. This could include:
- what the symptoms feels like
- what you are doing at the time the symptoms occur
- how long the symptoms last, and
- anything else you think is relevant
- Weather conditions (eg low cloud, cold frosty night, warm sunny day, wind less day, rain etc)
- Wind direction
- Estimated wind speed where you are located on the ground. For example: no wind, light breeze, strong or gale
When to record:
Assessment of Sleep:
Visual (Linear) analogue are a simple easy way to visually record what the sleep over the preceding night was like. Information about methods of assessing fatigue is available from Dr Millar’s presentation.
Recurrent assessment of sleep in this fashion can form part of a sleep diary, which is useful for residents and their health practitioners to view in order to better understand and quantify the severity of the sleep impact.
ACOUSTIC SURVEY DATA RECORDING suggested by Steven Cooper at Cape Bridgewater
escribe feeling overwhelmed as well as being exhausted and increasingly unwell, before they realise that they are being adversely impacted by the sound and vibration energy.
The following list of actions will help you to take charge of your situation.
The most important thing, however, is to reduce your exposure as soon and as often as possible, especially if your symptoms are rapidly worsening. For most people, that means finding a temporary “safe haven” where they do not experience symptoms.
1. Learn as much as possible
Learn as much as you can about what is known about the impacts of infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN). Our resources section has a lot of useful information in addition to the website content, as do other websites listed in the footer.
2. Keep a personal health journal
Keep a detailed personal health journal, both when you are home and getting the symptoms, and when you are away from home, especially if you experience relief from the symptoms. Be aware that other sources of ILFN such as large compressors have induced some of the identical characteristic symptoms in people when away from their home (eg flying in some aeroplanes, driving in some cars, being in a building with a large air conditioning compressor).
3. Educate your health practitioners
Use the information in your journal to work out for yourself if your symptoms are related to noise exposure. If they are, educate your health practitioner about your symptoms, and about the known science. Remember that many health practitioners have no or little knowledge of the old and new research, or of the correlation between infrasound and low frequency noise exposure, and the symptoms being reported by many.
4. Actively manage your stress levels
Regular exercise is very important, as is restorative sleep. If the noise and vibration is stopping you from having adequate restorative sleep night after night, it is inevitable that unless you can get away for breaks and have some decent good quality sleep, your mental and physical health will start to deteriorate over time.
5. Don’t be silent and invisible
If you or a family member are being adversely impacted, make sure you put your reports of adverse effects in writing, not just verbal complaints, as there is no record of these conversations, and there is a high staff turnover in some renewable energy companies. Unfortunately you need to keep doing this, or the developers get away with saying “there is no problem because no one is complaining”. When you complain, make sure you get an official complaint number from them, and put in a complaint for each occasion or 24 hour period where you are adversely impacted. Apart from the wind developer, others you may wish to advise of your problems in person and in writing include
- your local health practitioners
- the local council — Mayor, Councillors, CEO and environmental health employee
- the relevant senior bureaucrat in the State government departments of planning, health and noise regulation
- the relevant state elected parliamentarians and your elected representatives
- Federal parliamentarians who represent you, or who have portfolio and shadow portfolio responsibilities in relevant areas
- wind energy advocates especially those in government departments or academic positions who deny there is a problem
6. Identify sources of support and help
Link in with others who are affected, or concerned, and share information and support. Organising and networking are two activities which will help increase your lobbying strength and self help opportunities and reduce your feelings of powerlessness and isolation. There may be local solutions you can source, such as temporary respite accommodation which will give you a break and a decent sleep if you do not have somewhere you can relocate to. For example some residents at existing noise pollution affected sites have linked up with residents opposing similar proposed developments elsewhere, and accept hospitality in return for sharing their experiences first hand.
7. Obtain acoustic evidence of your exposures
If you can, get some idea of the acoustic exposures in your home or workplace. Formal complaints to wind developers and noise regulatory authorities and full spectrum noise monitoring inside and outside your home, with full provision of all the acoustic data to you is the ideal to sort out the problem, but doesn’t happen in practice. Nevertheless it is worth requesting. Alternatively, if you have sufficient financial resources you can employ your own acoustician. The Waubra Foundation have a list of acousticians who have demonstrated the highest ethical standards of their profession, to protect the health and safety of the public. We also know some of the objective researchers who may be interested in measuring the full spectrum of noise and in the impacts you are experiencing, and can put you in touch with them directly.
8. Educate the politicians and public servants
Lobby all relevant levels of government, and ensure that they are aware of your situation, in writing. Make sure they too are made directly aware of the knowledge of the adverse health impacts being experienced — preferably by coming to visit you in your home, and hearing your story. If they won’t come to you, make appointments to see them in person.
9. Educate the media
If you are happy to speak out publicly in the media about the problems in your area and the need for accountability for the noise pollution, and the urgent need for research, please do so at every opportunity. Spend the time educating the local journalists about the reality of your situation — it is the only way to expose the spin of the wind developers. Write letters to the editor of local, state and national newspapers, as that way the editors know this is an issue of genuine local concern, even if they don’t print your letters.
10. Obtain legal advice
10. Consider seeking experienced legal advice. A noise abatement order may be an option, used successfully in the UK in cases of noise nuisance. A case for noise nuisance from a wind turbine initiated by Jane and Julian Davis was settled confidentially in the UK High Court in late 2011. The Information for Lawyers in our website details other options which may be worth considering.