Direct Causation of Nausea and Vertigo Symptoms by Infrasound

US Acoustician and director of Acoustics Standards Dr Paul Schomer, and colleagues John Erdreich, James Boyle, and Pranav Pamidighantam have proposed a theory which explains why a small subset of those people affected adversely by wind turbine noise rapidly develop symptoms of nausea and vertigo, sufficiently serious for them to resort to home abandonment.

The theory is consistent with the clinical epidemiological findings of Dr Nina Pierpont, who discovered that a history of motion sickness was one of the susceptibility characteristics of the participants in her study. Schomer drew upon existing neurophysiological knowledge of how the inner ear works, and old research investigating motion sickness in helicopter pilots and flight simulators from 1987.

Using knowledge of the acoustic data collected from the Shirley wind farm acoustic survey, together with applied physics, Dr Schomer and his coauthors established that the forces people are exposed to inside their homes from wind turbine infrasound are greater than the criteria used by the Navy for nauseogenicity. In other words, given the physical forces involved it would be extremely surprising if these symptoms were not being reported in some residents susceptible to developing motion sickness.

Using calculated probabilities, the authors find that there is a less than 2 in 1,000,000 chance that the wind turbine emissions and the symptoms in these worst affected residents are unrelated. This is prima facie evidence of direct causation, and is yet another piece of evidence directly rebutting the “nocebo” hypothesis.

From the paper’s summary:

“For at least four decades there have been reports in scientific literature of people being made ill by low-frequency sound and infrasound. In the last several years there have been an increasing number of such reports with respect to wind turbines, which corresponds, obviously, to their becoming more prevalent. A study in Shirley, WI has lead to interesting findings that include:

(1) for major effects, it appears that the source must be at a very low frequency, about 0.8 Hz and below with maximum effects at about 0.2 Hz;

(2) the largest, newest wind turbines are moving down in frequency into this range;

(3) the symptoms of motion sickness and wind turbine acoustic emissions “sickness” are very similar;

(4) and it appears that the same organs in the inner ear, the otoliths may be central to both conditions.

Given that the same organs may produce the same symptoms, one explanation is that the wind turbine acoustic emissions may, in fact, induce motion sickness in those prone to this affliction. Finally, It is shown that the probability that sensitivity to motion sickness and sensitivity to wind turbine acoustic emissions are unrelated is less than 2 in 1,000,000.”

Read the complete paper in Resources →