Summary: Stelling K. Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group
An Information Report Prepared for the
Multi-Municipal Wind Turbine Working Group
Compiled by Keith Stelling, July 2015
A Summary of Keith Stelling’s Report prepared by
Peter Mitchell, AM BChE
The health risk of infrasound from wind turbines has been dismissed by the wind industry as insignificant.
That industry has maintained that since the typical loudness and frequency of wind turbine sound within a home is not audible, it cannot have any effect on human health.
Such observations fail to take appropriate account of the distinguishing signature of the sound from a wind turbine.
One recognisable pattern is of sharply rising and falling pulses in the infrasound range typically 0.75, 1.5, 2.25, 3.0 hertz and so on. At this frequency these pulses may be felt or sensed more than heard by ears.
Research by Dr Alec Salt and others has demonstrated that sub-audible infrasound does result in a physiological response from various systems within the body.
We now know that sub-audible pulsating infrasound can be detected inside homes near wind turbines and up to 10 km distant.
We know that very low levels of infrasound and low frequency sound are registered by the nervous system of the body even though they cannot be heard.
The research cited in this report implicates these infrasonic pulsations as the cause of the most commonly reported sensations experienced by many people living close to wind turbines including chronic sleep disturbance, dizziness, tinnitus, heart palpitations, vibrations and pressure sensations in the head and chest, etc.
Similarly there is medical research which demonstrates that pulsating infrasound can be a direct cause of sleep disturbance.
In clinical medicine, chronic sleep interruption and deprivation is acknowledged as a trigger of serious health problems.
The NASA investigation by Dr Neil Kelley and his colleagues established a link between turbine generated impulsive infrasound and low frequency noise and the symptoms reported by the residents.
Pages 9 to 12 – Dr Kelley’s Findings
Wind turbines emit infrasound.
Wind turbine infrasound and low frequency noise is often sub-audible and is characteristically impulsive containing spikes or peaks and valleys.
Community annoyance included many saying that they could feel, more than hear the sounds (and also) spoke of repetitive sleep disturbance.
We (the study team) concluded the annoyance was real and not imagined.
Wind turbine disturbance is detected more inside houses than outside.
A-weighted measurements are not an adequate indicator of annoyance when low frequencies are dominant.
The acoustic pressure patterns radiated from large wind turbines have a definite structure as compared with the natural wind-induced background.
There is evidence that the strong resonances found in the acoustic pressure field within rooms actually measured, indicates a coupling of sub-audible energy to human body resonances at 5, 12 and 17-25 hertz resulting in a sensation of whole body vibration.
For nearly three decades Kelley’s work has been overlooked or intentionally side stepped.
In a recent interview Dr Kelley re-confirmed the studies he conducted in the 1980s apply to the modern upwind turbines in use today. He challenged acousticians to install infrasound measurement instruments inside homes if they doubted his opinion.
The wind industry has opposed all attempts to change standards to include the measurement of low frequency noise and infrasound or to set controls for low frequency noise and infrasound inside homes.
Pages 16 to 29
Detailed verification of Kelley’s work by Malcolm Swinbanks; Rick James; the Falmouth, Massachussets Study of 2011; Investigation of the Shirley, Wisconsin Wind Farm and Cooper’s work at Cape Bridgewater and a note by Dr Paul Schomer on the Cape Bridgewater Report.
This whole body of work is infinitely more scientifically sound than assertions about nocebo, and the downgrading of victim affidavits and evidence by sufferers to the latest Senate Inquiry as anecdotal evidence, etc.
Pages 30 to 42
This section deals with “Medical evidence on chronic infrasound exposure.”
Pages 30 and 31 refer to the WHO report “Guidelines for Community Noise” and include statements expressing concern about the impacts of low frequency sound which coincide with the symptoms described by neighbours of wind turbine projects.
Page 32 refers to the 2003 DEFRA report “A Review of Published Research on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects” by Dr Geoff Leventhall et al which concludes by saying:
“there is no doubt that some humans exposed to infrasound experience abnormal ear, CNS, and resonance induced symptoms that are real and stressful”
Page 33 notes that Professor Hedge of Cornell University states that vibrations in the frequency of 0.5 to 80 hertz have significant effects on the human body and goes on to discuss resonance frequencies of different parts of the body and notes that:
“whole body vibration may create chronic stresses and sometimes even permanent damage to the affected organs or body parts.”
Pages 34 and 35 notes the work of Basner et al published in the Lancet in 2014 “Auditory and non auditory effects of noise on health” and an additional article “Cardiovascular effects of environmental noise exposure” published in the European Heart Journal and concludes:
“noise not only causes annoyance, sleep disturbance, or reductions in quality of life, but also contributes to a higher prevalence of the most important cardiovascular risk factor, arterial hypertension, and the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.”
Page 34 quotes from an article by Moller and Pedersen, acousticians at Aalborg University, Denmark, titled “Hearing at Low and Infrasonic Frequencies” which explains mechanisms and impacts.
Page 37 quotes from Bob Thorne an acoustician and a psycho-acoustician with considerable field experience in “Wind Farm Noise and Human Perception A Review”:
“The findings suggest that the individuals living near the wind farms of this study have a degraded Health-related Quality of Life through annoyance and sleep disruption and that their health is significantly and seriously adversely affected (harmed) by noise.”
“some individuals will more likely than not be so affected that there is a known risk of serious harm to health.”
Pages 38 to 42 quote work and evidence by doctors Michael Nissenbaum and Chris Hanning which is supportive of conclusions reached by others, but is largely limited to relatively close distances from turbines.
In part, Dr Hanning said under oath;
“the only study of wind turbine noise and well being which does not demonstrate harm is that of Mroczek which included subjects not exposed to turbine noise and the conclusions are not justified by the data. Every other study shows harm.”
and goes on:
“there is no single, well conducted, controlled and reliable piece of original research which shows that wind turbines do not cause harm at the distances proposed here. Not one.”
Still under oath he states: with respect to causality:
“affected subjects improve when exposure ceases and relapse when exposure restarts. This is prima facie evidence of causality. The studies of Pedersen as well as those of Nissenbaum and Bigelow show a clear dose-response relationship. This too is prima facie evidence of causality.“
Pages 42 and 43 present Stelling’s Conclusions repeated here in full:
Based on the information presented above, infrasound generated by wind turbines must be considered a potential direct cause of the adverse health reactions widely reported from wind turbine host communities.
Now that so many indicators point to infrasound as a potential agent of adverse health effects, it is critical to re-examine the approach to this aspect of wind turbine operation, revise regulations and immediately implement protective public health measures based on the precautionary principle.
View the original report at: https://www.wind-watch.org/documents/infrasoundlow-frequency-noise-and-wind-turbines/
Summary prepared by:
P.R. Mitchell, AM BChE
PO Box 296
Point Lonsdale Vic. 3225
Download a PDF version of Mr Mitchell’s Summary→