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CEC says EPA report dismisses myth about wind farm infrasound

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Just in: The Clean Energy Council has welcomed a report released by the South Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) that it says has finally put to rest a common myth about wind farms – that they create dangerous levels of infrasound, or sound too low for humans to hear, that can be harmful to people who live near wind turbines.

The CEC said in a statement that the EPA report found that the level of infrasound from wind turbines is insignificant and no different to any other source of noise, and that the worst contributors to household infrasound are air-conditioners, traffic and noise generated by people.

Here is the rest of the CEC statement. The full report can be found here:

Clean Energy Council Policy Director Russell Marsh said the report provided some much-needed clarity in a debate that has often been clouded by misinformation.

“South Australia’s EPA is the most experienced regulatory authority in Australia when it comes to wind farm noise, and this new report provides hard evidence that wind turbines do not cause increased levels of infrasound in surrounding areas, neither inside people’s homes nor outdoors,” Mr Marsh said.

“The study included houses in rural and urban areas, houses both adjacent to a wind farm and away from turbines, and measured the levels of infrasound with the wind farms operating and also switched off.

“There were no noticeable differences in the levels of infrasound under all these different conditions. In fact, the lowest levels of infrasound were recorded at one of the houses closest to a wind farm, whereas the highest levels were found in an urban office building.”

The EPA’s study concluded that the level of infrasound at houses near wind turbines was no greater than in other urban and rural environments, and stated that “the contribution of wind turbines to the measured infrasound levels is insignificant in comparison with the background level of infrasound in the environment”.

Infrasound is sound that is lower than 20 cycles per second (Hertz), and cannot be detected by normal human hearing. Some anti-wind farm campaigners have argued that wind turbines generate levels of infrasound that cause health effects in people living close by.

This latest report comes on top of the findings of a South Australian Senate committee on wind farms and excessive noise, which said in a report in November last year that “there is no evidence to suggest that inaudible infrasound (either from wind turbines or other sources) is creating health problems”.

“This is yet another clean bill of health for wind farms, which have been proven time and time again to cause no negative health impacts from noise,” Mr Marsh said.

“The results of the EPA’s report show that the real contributors to infrasound are things like air-conditioners, traffic and urban office environments – not wind farms. This is great news for clean and safe renewable wind energy and further reassurance for communities near wind farms.”

 

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  • Beat Odermatt

    It seems whatever science can proof, self interested “experts” with no relevant qualifications manage to cause doubt. The anti-windmill Don Quixote movement managed to get some media attention and the support of the anti-anything and jealousy king Nick Xenophon.
    Coal is dirty and even with the best current technology, we still cannot make coal dust, spontaneous combustion, acid drainage and fly ash disappear. Power stations, coal trains, mining, coal trains, blasting and drilling all make a noise. I am surprised that the Don Quixote movement with its windmill warriors is not aware of it.
    Every bit of non renewable energy which is replaced by wind, hydro or solar energy remains as a raw material for future generations.

  • http://thisnessofathat.blogspot.com.au/ Gillian

    I’d recommend caution in reporting the findings of this study because the sample size is very small – only 11 locations. And the measurement period is minimal – only one week of data.

    Still, it is a well-designed study and gives a very useful summary of issues around infrasound along with some indicative measures.

    They conclude: This study concludes that the level of infrasound at houses near the wind turbines assessed is no greater than that experienced in other urban and rural environments, and is also significantly below the human perception threshold.

    It will be good to see further studies carried out in other locations.

  • ian

    There are 2 places where I felt discomfort from low frequency noise- both from air conditioning systems generating a deep and powerful resonance. In one case I felt a bit sick on the tummy, while the other was overbearing and irritating- one a club in western Sydney and the other a 30 y/o mid 8 story building in Brisbane. Both cases of sick building syndrome.
    On the other hand I have visited a number of wind farm sites and never once have I had any form of irritation- just pure wonder at the beauty of the technology.
    Hopefully the hypochondriacs with vivid and tainted imaginations will shut up now.