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Infrasound report: Wind turbine syndrome is everywhere and nowhere

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When I was eight years old, I was on the verge of being eaten. Terrified, I buried myself underneath the blankets, and nervously listened to an unearthly howling directly outside my bedroom window. I realised soon that the noise I had heard was the wind passing through the eaves of my family’s aged London terrace house, a noise that had sounded eerily sentient. My fear was simply related to a lack of data – those few extra seconds of dogged listening eased my concerns. We are evolutionarily wired towards the sensation of threat – a sensation that is overridden by taking time to pause, and listen closely.

Objections to the installation of wind farms have, in the past four years, played on this aspect of our nature. Claims have arisen that inaudible, infrasonic noise emissions have a direct effect of human physiology, bypassing our conscious percept and wreaking biological devastation. For this hypothesis to hold true, two basic principles need to be demonstrated conclusively:

– Infrasound emitted from wind farms has to be markedly higher in amplitude than infrasound produced by other sources;

– This amplitude has to be causally linked to a direct and demonstrable pathological effect on human physiology.

The South Australian Environmental Protection Agency (SA EPA) recently took some time to investigate the first premise: that wind farm infrasound measures higher than that from other sources in the environment. If the premise were found to be true, then wind turbine syndrome might well be a reality. If it were found to be false, then it serves as firm evidence that ‘wind turbine syndrome’ is deeply improbable.

The Salt Hypothesis

Alec Salt, a professor at the Washington University School of Medicine, has formulated a theory, regarding the response of the human ear to varying levels of infrasound – the second of our two hypothetical requirements. Salt suspects the outer hair cells (OHCs) of the human ear produce a response, when subjected to a certain infrasound stimulus, and tested his theory with the in-vitro OHCs of guinea pigs.

Importantly, his work focuses on amplitude – specifically, he nominates 60 dB(G) as the trigger value for the OHCs to begin their ‘physiologic reaction’- the response championed by opponents of wind developments as the primary cause of ‘wind turbine syndrome’. If this amplitude were discovered to be unique to wind farms, it would be a vindication for those calling for a moratorium on wind energy.

The EPA Discussion

The authors of the EPA paper are unequivocal in their consideration of infrasound:

“The key effect of infrasound can be a high level of annoyance when the level exceeds the hearing threshold, i.e. it must be perceptible to have an effect. No physiological effects have been found to occur below the level of perceptibility.”

Infrasound can actually be perceived, once it reaches a certain amplitude. This threshold increases as you move down the frequency range, towards zero. The authors propose a conservative criterion of 85 dB(G), based on several different assessment criteria. Importantly, this accounts for individual differences in perception thresholds for infrasound.

They use the ‘G-weighting’, a mathematical tool for ensuring that absolute measurements of sound pressure level are adjusted for the way the human body responds to sound in the infrasonic range. This what the ‘(G)’ means in ‘dB(G)’. The Australian Acoustical Society consider this weighting to be appropriate as per international standards, as they assert in an unpublished letter to The Australian.

Infrasound Measurements – Urban Locations

The EPA, in conjunction with Resonate Acoustics, reported on the levels of infrasound at various locations in urban locales (four offices and three residences).

One important finding is that the presence of human beings is a significant source of infrasound. The authors state, with regards to Location 1 (an office on Carrington St):

“The primary factor affecting the measured infrasound levels at Location 1 appears to be occupation of the office, as evidenced by the marked rise in the measured levels at approximately 4pm on Saturday and 2pm on Sunday when staff were noted to enter the office.”

Measured infrasound levels

The same conclusion was reached for Location 6, a house in Firle – human activity seems to be a demonstrable and significant contributor to the generation of infrasonic sound emissions.

Another important finding is the significant contribution of air-conditioning units to measured infrasound levels. Location 3, the EPA office in Adelaide exhibited “some of the highest levels measured at any of the urban and rural locations”. Traffic also resulted in infrasound levels that were “10 to 15dB(G) higher than that at night time”.

These are major problems for groups that claim infrasound has an as-yet undiscovered toxicity for the human body, at levels above 60 dB(G). There are 22,917,973 humans and 16,741,664 cars in Australia. Two-thirds of dwellings own some form of cooling – that’s around 7.6m x (2/3) = 5,066,000 air conditioner units. This means there are roughly 44.7 million unique sources of infrasound in Australia.

Infrasound Measurements – Rural environments

Wind farms are almost always placed in rural environments. The EPA measured the infrasound levels in four different locations that were host to a wind farm. Wind farm shutdowns were used to determine the contribution of the wind farm to infrasound levels at these locations. Their findings are unremarkable.

It would seem that the wind farms do not contribute significantly to measured infrasound level in rural dwellings – during the shutdown of the Bluff wind farm, the measured infrasound actually increased.

Distance has long been a creative component of the anti-wind lobby’s claims. Sarah Laurie has stated that “residents report the effects of the low frequency noise out to 10km”, but also offers 30 kilometres as the effective range of ‘wind turbine syndrome’. Motivated anti-wind enthusiast George Papadopoulos claims it can be perceived up to 100 kilometres away from wind turbines.

The EPA measured levels at a house 10 kilometres away from an operational wind turbine and found that “infrasound levels at the house are not related to wind farm operation, but rather are representative of the ambient infrasound environment at the farmhouse”.

They also measured infrasound levels at a house 30 kilometres away from a wind turbine. They simply concluded that “local wind speed (and localised turbulence) is a primary cause of infrasound levels at a location, and have a similar effect on both outdoor and indoor levels of infrasound”.

Frequency Analysis

The EPA also use their data to look at specific frequencies in the infrasonic range, between 0.25 Hz and 20 Hz (the previous sections present ‘measured infrasound’ as a single dB(G) value, over time). They do not use the G-weighting in this section. Their conclusions are similar.

“The results suggests that indoor infrasound levels at rural residences near to wind farms are no higher than those at rural residences away from wind farms, nor than infrasound levels at residences within urban areas.”

“There is minimal contribution from either the Bluff Wind Farm or the Clements Gap Wind Farm to sound pressure levels in the infrasonic region at the houses located approximately 1.5 kilometres away.”

Location 8, 1.5 kilometres away from the nearest wind turbine, showed ‘the lowest infrasound levels measured at any of the 11 locations included in this study.’

Interestingly, they did find some curious results when examining the contribution of the wind farm to low-level peaks that occur when the blades pass the tower, though they note, “sound pressure levels at these blade pass frequencies are no greater at residences adjacent to wind farms than at other locations”.

The Aftermath

The EPA’s conclusion is simple:

“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.”

This study is important, but not revelatory. The logical consequence of these findings, the anti-wind lobby are correct in their assertions, is that wind farms, human beings, traffic, air-conditioners and the wind itself are constantly triggering our outer hair cells, resulting in a catastrophic and constant worldwide apocalypse. There is no refuge from the dangers they preach – wind turbine syndrome is everywhere, or it is nowhere.

On the February 4 this year, Radio National’s Timothy McDonald interviewed Sarah Laurie about the research. Laurie asserts the following:

“The report itself, the authors only measured down to 10 hertz by using what we call the G-weighting. They ignored the frequencies between 0 and 10 hertz. And they’re the frequencies that many of us believe are the problem frequencies. So they didn’t actually measure those.”

As we saw earlier, the authors of the report measured down to 0.25 Hz. They state this range on 20 separate occasions in the report. Additionally, there seems to be no evidence of Laurie’s assertion that she is mainly concerned with frequencies between 0-10 Hz prior to the release of the EPA study (she states ‘0 – 200 Hz’ as the frequency range of greatest concern to the Waubra Foundation here, and makes a similar assertion in a letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, here).

Another curious response is the claim that the authors ought to have used linear, un-weighted measurements, rather than the G-weighting (presented amongst the wretchedly unpleasant sneer ‘Clean Energy Stasi’). This claim would presumably not sit well with Dr. Alec Salt, who unambiguously demands infrasound measurements utilise the G-weighting.

Regardless, the EPA included un-weighted measurements of sound pressure level (dB) across the infrasonic frequency range as part of their ‘Frequency Analysis’ section – see the figure below for an example, taken from page 57.

Infrasonic frequencies

These responses seem to be free of logic or rigour. This is no hindrance for a movement that is borne of anger, emotion and excess rather than rationality. Where we ought to see logic, we see manic, frothing comparisons to genocidal regimes, peppered with unchecked falsehoods.

After nearly three years of heatedly calling for more research into the health effects of wind turbines, the anti-wind lobby may well consider being careful what they wish for. The Waterloo Wind Farm in South Australia is currently the subject of a similar study by the EPA, determining the levels of infrasound at nearby residences attributable to the wind farm.

Anonymous, cruel-tongued anti-wind bloggers and tabloid current affairs shows have already declared the mere commencement of this study as undeniable proof of a problem with wind energy – a logical fallacy that neatly summarises their loathsome, love-hate relationship with scientific inquiry.

For many centuries, areas untouched by empirical investigation have proven rich, fertile ground for spreading fear and anxiety. A deficiency in evidence has often been obscured by emotion, noise and anecdote. As our knowledge grows, those who dwell nervously in these dark spaces find themselves cramped and uncomfortable.

Ketan Joshi is a research and communications officer at Infigen Energy

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

    Snookered!

    We demand that you conduct more research.

    Look! You’re researching it so you must think it’s a problem.

    • mijanko

      I don’t want to play Russian Roulette with my young family. For decades, until the 50′s, doctors found no conclusive proof that smoking caused cancer, yet now we know just over 50% of smokers die of some smoking related illness. We have limited means and wisdom, history shows.

      Now we have real people who actually lived near smaller versions of IWTs than what are planned in Ontario who have warned us what IWTs caused them and what they had to do. Experiences of real people to me hold more weight than studies, which are only a percentage correct and of various parameters when it comes to people’s health. This one site tracks nearly 2,000 IWT resistance groups formed by real people. http://quixoteslaststand.com/worldwide-anti-wind-groups/

      We sleep with our windows open, we have screen doors and we get a beautiful breeze through our place such that we don’t use Air Conditioning. (Calculate the reduction of Carbon Emissions) Now life in the country provides a fairly silent backdrop. A casual conversation can be heard kilometers away. If I can no longer sleep with windows open, it is already a detriment.

      I appreciate the efforts of all looking into this in advance of 570′+ turbines appearing around us, but what are you prepared to do if one of my daughters develops Tinnitis? We are not complainers. The last shift of work I missed due to sickness was Feb 2002 and none of us are allergic to anything.

      But if we develop issues, what are our leaders and the wind industry prepared to do? How does our health prioritize against dollars? Do we have to pay lawyers, etc?

      I have an expectation. I hope people are wrong and their are no issues, but shouldn’t we exercise caution? Why put three 570′+ turbines within 570 meters of our home while all this debating goes on?

      Ketan, you seem a gentleman and a knowledgeable one at that. But I take direct issue with the Practical application of your comments 1)”Plausibility does not count as the establishment of causality” and 2)”you are the ‘claimant’ – and as such, the burden of proof lies with the claimant”

      1 – We are talking people’s health – this is not a wise approch to it
      2 – We are a single income family who does not have access to such funds as to study through the limited means we possess or to fight in court.

      None of the above will matter if we don’t have any issues, but if we do, I don’t want to be me in that case.

      I do thank you for sticking with us in here. Nice to have access to a resource like you. It must be easy to become desensitized with all the talk, but secure people can talk with those who hold contrary opinions, first to understand their claims, then to challenge this thinking with our own.

      • Ketan Joshi

        Hi Mijanko,

        First, thanks for the comment. As you say, there’s a lot of talk out there, so it’s quite refreshing to get a comment as well-thought-out and considered as yours, so, many thanks – I appreciate it.

        You raise some really good points – to summarise, if I may: You’re pointing that, sure, in pure theoretical science, the burden of proof lies on the claimaint – but isn’t public health different? Shouldn’t we exercise caution, if there’s a possible issue?

        I’d like to point out two things in response.

        First: A lot of illnessess and ailments occur in an average human population. Tinnitus, for instance, is quite common: 18% of all Australians experience it from time to time (http://www.tinnitus.asn.au/tinnitus.htm). So, we have a baseline of these issues occurring regularly. and anti-wind groups make a point of attributing these illnesses to to wind turbines – even though making that link takes some real medical science. So: how can we exercise caution, when there’s no strong evidence to suggest that that baseline is any different to a normal population?

        Second: Research already exists that assesses the safety of noise emissions from wind turbines (audible, inaudible, and of all frequencies, measured inside and outside homes). To give you a few examples:

        Macarthur Wind Farm had some noise monitoring done recently, and they found low-frequency sound hadn’t changed before and after the operation of the turbines (when measured from inside homes, using linear, unweighted measurements):
        http://bit.ly/18ASI95 [pdf]

        The South Australian EPA study I wrote about above is quite important – it tells us that infrasound is no threat to our health. That’s a fact that gets ignored at our peril.

        Having said all that – I think there’s still no fault in exercising caution, and treating the information you get from everyone (including me) with a skeptical eye. But that means considering the fact that no individual in the world has been diagnosed with ‘wind turbine syndrome’, and that much of the claims are outlandish, or based on a poor understanding of how scientific investigation works.

        It’s worth noting that many of the groups listed in that link are situated in English-speaking countries. This is despite the fact that there are huge installed capacities in countries that do not have English as their primary langauge. I did a blog post on this recently:

        http://etwasluft.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/diseases-that-speak-english.html

        It suggests that the phenomenon you’re concerned about seems to be transmitted culturally rather than physically or physiologically – otherwise, you’d expect an equal or greater number of opposition groups in countries with high installed capacities (citing one or two groups from these countries doesn’t count).

        So, to summarise: anti-wind groups take common problems, and blame wind turbines. They spread this through fear and uncertainty, rather than through established medical science. They focus on outrage and emotion. Don’t give up your natural caution, but consider their claims rationally and skeptically – I think that will give you the best outcome.

        Cheers,
        Ketan

        • George Papadopoulos

          Ketan, lots of people of people suffer from lots of diseases such as heart attacks. Except, thanks to research, we know of associations and risk factors.
          For some strange reason your industry and that professor from Sydney University have a strange attitude to discouraging any research such as cohorts that may reveal similar results to the studies already done by Shepherd et al (2012) and Nissenbaum et al (2013).
          Instead there is no shortage of “international reviews” that don’t add much by way of research, and gross measurements of infrasound and noise that don’t say much either. I guess the wind industry might think that a screaming baby is as annoying as singing canary if the dBa measurement is the same?
          Meanwhile the tonality issues identified in Steven Cooper’s work and the amplitude modulation identified by others such as Swinbanks conveniently ignored.
          Any explanations about this peculiar attitude?

          • mijanko

            I have an emerging possibility – UN Agenda 21.

            Funny thing is, I would probably side with them and help if the root and most impactful are true, but Global Governance, if this is true is not giving us this opportunity. Not sure I’d disagree if I were in their shoes, but truly I tell you if this is true, I would be straight up with people, even if every indicator told me the majority would reject, as a credit to those who would consider and conclude.

            How I suspect this relates to the IWT debate is under 21, people would be moved into cities. Big Gov being being well intending for humanity in the most important ways I suspect know the harms, but hope we will relocate and they will go away.

            If it truely was the case, I’d comply. But given what real information we have now (The above is bizarre to me, yet logical), I am directly opposed to the I in IWT.

            Interested in the thoughts of others, as always.

          • George Papadopoulos

            I don’t know of any relation with Agenda 21 but the simple way to flush people into towns and cities would be to make petrol so expensive that it would be a prohibitive cost to living and travelling to work etc.
            What is obvious about wind turbines is no serious thought about the impact of tonnes of material wildly spinning around on metal towers, spanning more space that jumbo jet etc. There was also no serious thought about integrating intermittent sources of energy with the current grid system.
            There have been plenty of resources wasted, livelihoods destroyed, divided communities, and opportunities to make meaningful reductions in carbon emissions decades behind.
            The rest is a legacy of poor decision making and the undue influence of dogmatically positioned lobby groups on public opinion.

        • mijanko

          Interesting my last reply posted 12h ago is not here. It spoke to focusing on the concerns of real people who actually lived near giant IWTs.

          Anyway, this man in Oregon sure is spending alot of money to back the Sicknesses some people call Wind Turbine Syndrome (Probably not an official clinical term yet, but they’ll catch up.)

          http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2013/08/post_133.html

          I would love to hear a live conversation between you and he.

        • mijanko

          Re-posting a post I thought I’d posted Friday night EDT, but may have encountered an issue. (Yes, I always keep two backups….)

          Hello Ketan,

          Let us not de-personalize the face of Industrial Wind resistance by shifting focus from ‘children trying to sleep’ to ‘faceless groups’ for that is not my focus and a somewhat mediocre pacification tactic.

          To be clear, what speaks loudest to me are the real experiences of people who actually lived close to IWTs and there are a significant number of people who are telling us things like “My daughter now wakes up at night screaming in pain from her ears.” Here is but one of countless links http://ontario-wind-resistance.org/video-testamonies/ watch some of the videos. They are not professionally made or even scripted. Some of them I was I had been there questioning them, because they just talk about their situation becoming horrible, but do not effectively communicate the link and how they know it.

          Realize that people don’t resist wind as a paid occupation. They do it after work and time with family. As such, they are apt to be less organized than industry, but should not be discredited for it.

          Looking beyond % of people who experience Tinnitis once in their life, if you talk to some of these people, they would tell you, beyond that base statistic, there is the timing and sudden repeat occurrence of said issues corresponding with IWT placement. Research may catch up some day. I urge people with such claims to help it do so. That is a backward looking view, meaning already happened.

          As to who IWT Resistance is, the group in my area is chaired by an expert on renewable energy. The actual fact about him is he has powered his home completely with renewable energy for the last 30 years. With his insight, he leads an IWT resistance group. Further, the people I’ve met under him are all in favour of Renewable Energy such as solar panels and <60' personal turbines, but take great issue with giant IWTs.

          I don't see why many of the sites in my link being in English are relevant. Some are, some aren't. The site is maintained by a private resident after working and taking care of family and she is an English speaker, so it stands to reason most of her links would be in English. What are you trying to say about English speaking countries and their people? Could there be a correlation between turbine size increases, where they have been installed close to people and the IWT resistance groups most vocal?

          We may consider the culture many English speaking countries have which is not a top down chain of command but rather planners and executers all having voices and thus the common person is more likely to channel their information to where it matters. Such culture lended itself to early excellence in manufacturing, design and innovation, but admittedly can be annoying at times when you are an Engineer and those who may not know all the questions believe they have the answers. But it takes all types. Some of what you blog about is apparent. The elevated % of complacency in the successful is a clever trigger in the cycle of renewal which helps the hungry gain.

          In your blog, you incorrectly stated those speaking Dutch don't seem to have issues. In the Reuters Article titled "Dutch fall out of love with windmills" it states they are financially failing and costs will be transferred to people. Note the turbines are built in part offshore and they started in 2006 with 30 storey high turbnines. That is half the size of what is proposed here and out at sea.

          Another article focused on the dutch states "But these turbines are a far cry from the squat four-bladed mills used for centuries to drain the swamps and create new land from the sea. They are giants, with gray metallic blades that will scrape the clouds at 650 feet (about 200 meters) _ and residents say they'll destroy a way of life". http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-technology/in-holland-land-of-windmills-flap-over-wind-farm-20110214-1atrj.html

          Further a study of the Dutch concluded more people are starting to resist wind power and there is a distinct correlation between a lack of complaints only from those who financially benefit from IWTs.

          There is also a cultural element explained in this quote from the Article about the Dutch "An Ill Wind" “In Holland, people . . . think an individual is not capable of creating a force against multinationals, and energy companies in the Netherlands are very huge and have a lot of power,” says Kooi-de Bruijne." Question, who freed them during WWII? Also it states "What’s more, the provincial government of North Holland, home to Amsterdam and a popular wind farm location, put forward a motion in September to ban any future construction of wind farms in the province."

          Regarding noise emissions, there is much to consider as you well know. There are so many ways to look at the data and considerations to apply. I think you've accounted for the fact instruments do not have the same hearing sensitivity as the human ear. I've seen efforts to consider Sound Emissions against a silent back drop of the country where a conversation is heard 1 km away (Amplitude above backdrop?) and finally the effect of repetitive pattern: recurring over and over and over again – a pattern similar to the alarm clock – and its job is to wake people up. Infrasound being at lower frequencies and longer wavelength travel greater distances with equal input power. Infrasound travels through wall and window with ease and we can't hear it. Perhaps it is not just amplitude, but characteristic? What about people who have inner ear issues? Stapes be rattled while you try to sleep.

          Our issue is with giant industrial turbines. You may do your company well to steer them toward community power solutions, much smaller turbines or greater setbacks. I'd be happy to have a couple small turbines and solar panels.

          I will continue to seek out experiences and meet people directly. I hope I and many others are wrong about all this and they don't cause us issues at all. If they come, I'll approach them with an open mind. I am keen to understand issues and work collaboratively toward logical solutions. I am not a "fat cat", at least not at this stage!

          Canada's federal government is conducting a study into potential negative impacts in people from IWTs. It will release results sometime in 2014. I think what upsets a great many in Canada (A bi-lingual country composed of provinces such as Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan…) is given the terrible stories told by many living near turbines, they'd like to see what this study has to say before any such construction begins as it may feed into setbacks, etc.

          Take care.

  • George Papadopoulos

    Ketan, you forgot to mention that the SA EPA report was still detecting wind turbine infrasound when the Bluff wind turbines were switched off.

    Next to the Bluff wind farm (of 53MW capacity) is the North Brown Hill wind farm of 132 MW capacity and a little further away Hallett 1 and Hallett II wind farms of 95MW and 71 MW capacities respectively.

    No wonder why infrasound levels didn’t fall by much, and the peculair tonality of wind infrasound is still present when the Bluff turbines were supposedly switched off.

    Good trick, but failed to delude!

    • http://etwasluft.blogspot.com.au Ketan Joshi

      Logically, of course, every single region used in this entire study is within 100 kilometres of a wind farm, and so, all readings taken anywhere can be attributed to the pervasive presence of wind turbines.

      • George Papadopoulos

        Particularly Ketan when the other wind farm (North Brown Hill) is only 7km away and the work of Steven Cooper shows that the tonality of wind turbine infrasound is still detectible 8km away…

        But yes, my ears are a little sensitive and seem to fault the notion of absolute reliance on modern day accoustical equipment.

        • http://etwasluft.blogspot.com.au Ketan Joshi

          I doubt this will change anything, but the distance between the two wind farms is 9.466 km.

          http://i.imgur.com/XgQ8EUf.jpg

          • George Papadopoulos

            Ketan, pardon me, but the figure between measuring location from the SA EPA report http://www.epa.sa.gov.au/xstd_files/Noise/Report/infrasound.pdf follows:

            “The nearest turbine at North Brown Hill is positioned 8 kilometres from the measurement location, and 22 of the turbines at the Bluff Wind Farm were closer than the nearest turbine at North Brown Hill”

            Mind you, perhaps you should know better than me that a 1 hertz sound wave is about 300m long and its strength decays much slower than higher frequencies. So argument over 1 or 2 kms is a non-issue!

          • http://etwasluft.blogspot.com.au Ketan Joshi

            When one is limited only by one’s imagination, minor things like numbers make very little difference.

          • George Papadopoulos

            Ketan, nice to see how relative you can be in your insults.

  • http://www.omnishambles.com.au Michael Mazengarb

    I know Ketan Joshi holds a vested interest, but its hard to deny some of those closing lines are brilliantly written nonetheless.

  • Mal

    Perhaps it has nothing to do with infrasound being potentially transmitted through air but via the much more efficient medium of the Earth itself.

    Animals that use infrasound as a means of communicating over vast distances, do so either through the Earth they’re standing on, or the Ocean they’re swimming in. Air simply is not a very efficient medium for the long distance transmission of very low frequency vibration.

    Perhaps the people who believe that they are affected by this low frequency energy are picking it up through structures (houses, other buildings) they spend a lot of time in. The origin of the transmission perhaps, is via the foundation of the Wind Turbine structures in the ground, rather than that through the air…

    Has this aspect of infrasound transmission been investigated at some stage?

    • Chris

      There is likely to be correlation with those claiming “wind turbine syndrome” and those refuting climate science / AGW in general as the “ostrich” head in the sand behaviour may make them more beholden to the denser sound-carrying medium.

      • Richard Koser

        One remarkable finding from studies of wind farm syndrome is that people who are paid to host turbines don’t seem to suffer the symptoms.

        • Mal

          Yes,

          Very true… :)

          Mal.

        • George Papadopoulos

          Richard they “don’t seem to” suffer from the onslaught of suffering because they have failed to communicate their suffering publicly by name.

          Of two surveys done at Waterloo SA (by Mary Morris) and Gunning NSW (by Patina Schneider), it appears hosts do grumble about the issues but only anonymously.

          You may also have heard the reports about a wind turbine host, David Mortimer, who has gone very public because his contract with the wind developer didn’t contain a gag clause.

  • Peter

    Ketan,

    An excellent, well written article, and it seems based on a strong report. Look forward to seeing the Waterloo report.

    Cannot escape the contradiction however in the Green’s position on wind-Milne et al demand an evidenced based debate on wind science (as well as clinate science), but they are utterly shameless in tossing around scare-mongering and non-science in suggesting csm gas is causing all sorts of ills.

    All strength to science.

    • Phil of Brisbane

      Yes, all strength to science, but the Greens are simply saying that the science has NOT BEEN DONE on CSG! It’s going ahead relentlessly without a proper evaluation and understanding of its effect on acquifers, fugitive emissions, pollution of surface water, depletion of surface water…. I fear that in the end, humanity will look back at CSG mining as a disastrous non-application of risk management principles in a headlong rush for short-term profit!

  • genie81

    Hosts have ‘gag’ clauses in their contracts as per Senator Back from WA and are frightened with legal ramifications. Mr. Mortimer has come forward after finding that wind turbines have caused problems for both he and his wife by hosting. Do you realise that a device to scare snakes is used through vibration which as snakes cannot hear do ‘feel’. So isn’t it possible that sound can travel through the earth and not be heard but ‘felt’. There is so much evidence from world experts which is ignored by Australia that industrial wind turbines do cause problems. Ketan go live near them for a while like at least 6 months and then see how you feel especially in an abandoned house and hear what people in the vicinity of an industrial complex have to say.

  • Richard Mann

    You should not use “G weighting”. This has a peak at about 10Hz, but *falls off* quickly below that. Wind needs to come clean and tell us the *total sound level* emitted by turbines. That is, the dBL (decibels, linear, no weighting).

    • Ketan Joshi

      Richard,

      As I mentioned in the article, the South Australian EPA report incorporated linear, un-weighted measurements into the report.

      “Regardless, the EPA included un-weighted measurements of sound pressure level (dB) across the infrasonic frequency range as part of their ‘Frequency Analysis’ section – see the figure below for an example, taken from page 57.”

  • Richard Mann

    Dear Ketan, Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment… not all Wind supporters bother to listen to technical questions. I read the report a while ago, but I recall the closest turbine was quite far away (can you confirm the distance?). This report seems to show no significant difference with/without turbines.

    However, please look at the following report from Falmouth Mass,

    http://www.falmouthmass.us/energy/falmouthwind_noisereport_20sep2010_fnl.pdf

    Look at page 22 for example. This shows at least 10dB increase in sound levels when the turbine is on.

    I believe the study you refer to is one of the few (perhaps the only one) that shows no difference. Perhaps distance/wind conditions/measurement times or something else failed to pick up the difference in this study.

    Richard

    PS: You discredit Salt’s work, but there are many papers building on this, both in measurement and perception. For example, here is a link to an Acoustical Society of America paper. Note: they measured over 90dBL from a wind turbine!

    http://www.acoustics.org/press/164th/Bray_2aNS6.html

    • George Papadopoulos

      RE: “This report seems to show no significant difference with/without turbines.”

      Richard, I think you are referring to the SA EPA report on Mt Bluff – the accousticians were intelligent enough to shut the local wind turbines down but not the the neighboring wind farm 7km away… Somehow people just don’t get it that a 1 hertz sound wave is 300m or so long – don’t just vanish a few kms away.

      • Richard Mann

        That might be an explanation. The point is, this is just one study. Many other studies have found signifcant levels of infrasound, up to 90dB in some cases. Ketan, can you address these issues?

    • Ketan Joshi

      Richard,

      I’ll address your points:

      - The Falmouth study does not seem to consider the entire infrasonic range (0 – 20 Hz, which is what you seemed concerned with). The dB increase on page 22 refers to measured dBA levels, which is in reference to responses to audible changes (you seem to be referring to audible, physiological impacts directly on organelles in the human ear)

      - I also note that the study you mentioned found the facility to be (mostly) compliant with legislation

      - Here’s another study, conducted by the acoustics firm Sonus, regarding measuring the infrasonic environment around wind farms (and other areas):
      http://www.acoustics.asn.au/journal/2012/2012_40_1_Turnbull.pdf
      Please check it out – it’s fairly interesting.

      - The theory that infrasonic emissions from wind turbines activate the OHC is curious, but currently there’s no evidence to suggest that infrasonic emissions below the threshold of perception can trigger a physiological response in human beings. Not that there will never be evidence in the future, but at the moment, there’s nothing to suggest that that’s the case.

      I think this is a good example of why we should wait for good medical evidence before we assert that a certain thing is harmful – you might measure 90 dBl from a wind turbine, but is there evidence that it directly activates the OHCs in our ears? Is there evidence that that activation causes the symptoms attributed to wind turbine syndrome? Is that evidence sufficient to travel to communities and tell them wind turbines will definitely cause harm?

      I think the issues you bring up are well worth close consideration, and are quite important in ensuring that the machines are safe. But, I also think we need to assess evidence quite carefully, before we assert that the machines are definitely harmful.

      • Richard Mann

        Dear Ketan,

        thanks for your replies.

        However, I’m very suspicious.

        People are complaining about a lot of hearing related issues (tinnitus, pressure in the ears, vertigo, etc).

        Salt, a leading audiologist and inner ear specialist has published peer reviewed academic research. Many others are following up on this.

        This all seems *plausible*. What does not make sense is denying this and continuing turbine construction full steam ahead. This is at the very least “nuissane”, and most likely *negligence* (health impacts).

        You work for wind. Are you the blind to the likely effects? The burden of proof should be on Wind to show that the levels are safe, not the other way around.

        Richard

        • Ketan Joshi

          Ah, you’re welcome. I do indeed work in the wind industry, so I’ve no doubt that bias plays at least some part in the way I perceive this issue – hence, why I try to be extra careful in my consideration of the issue, and why I enjoy discussing this on fora like this one.

          Plausibility does not count as the establishment of causality. I’ve no doubt that the complaints are quite real – but it requires a fairly rigorous medical investigation to establish a causal link to the presence of wind turbines.

          To claim that wind turbines are causing these ailments means you are the ‘claimant’ – and as such, the burden of proof lies with the claimant, rather than the skeptic. It’s impossible to prove a negative – ie, that there is a 0% probability that a technology is harmful.

          This is a fairly standard principle of scientific inquiry – check out:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_burden_of_evidence

          Regardless, the Sonus study I linked before, and the Environmental Protection Agency report I discuss in the article suggest that the levels emitted by the machines are at safe amplitudes.

          • Richard Mann

            I am not (yet) a claimant. I don’t know if they will impact me or not. However, I have met people who are suffering. I met a woman who drives 20 miles every night to another place to sleep. There are many like that. Not the majority, but a significant minority of people. I just find it hard to believe all these “coincidences” are an accident. If this were a “clinical trial” it would be called off. Any other field of scientific inquiry would put a probable hypothesis on wind turbines. Maybe you think people are somehow “hypnotized” to believe turbines are bad. Many were pro Wind until they noticed the problems.

  • George Papadopoulos

    Richard, you may have noticed how Ketan, unlike before, avoids locking horns with me – seems to have become a “born again” gentleman.
    The conversion seems to have happended after the NHMRC threw out the complaint by the PHAA against Sarah Laurie. The complaint mind you had an anonymous author.
    What seems to be rather interesting is Ketan’s relationship with Simon Chapman. Simon Chapman had admitted to have seeing a draft of this complaint. The format of the complaint is very similar to that used by Infigen in its responses.
    Ketan (Infigen e3mployee) has denied to have been the author of the complaint, but refuses to elaborate whether the complaint came out of the offices of Infigen. If gossip is correct, it was Ketan who “leaked” the complaint to the PHAA.
    It would be nice if Ketan could actually confirm/deny the allegations above. There is otherwise a nice trail of collusion between public health association, university academia and the wind industry.
    You see Richard, Ketan has a lot to respond to, that is why he is so polished and polite nowadays – not the loose canon he was coincidently prior to this sage.

  • Richard Mann

    Just saw a message that Denmark witll *stop construction* of some wind farms awaiting an independent study of health effects, including infrasound.

    Finally a government has the balls to stand up to the Wind industry. I wish they would do that in Ontario, Canada, where I live.

    Here is the video (TV news item, in Danish):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2xOnHL1vas

    English transcription:

    https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/07/02/is-living-near-wind-turbines-harmful-to-health/

    Richard

  • Jimmie Lindberg

    It doesen´t matter how many reports the windindustry produce to claim that there is no noiseissue. We have people all over the world beeing affected by windmill noise and complaining about it and thats proof enough, at least should be for our politicians in so called democratic countries, which show how boogus their reports are.