Wind turbines ARE a human health hazard: the smoking gun

The Telegraph -

How much more dirt needs to come out before  the wind industry gets the thorough investigation it has long deserved?

The reason I ask is that it has now become clear that the industry has known for at least 25 years about the potentially damaging impact on human health of the impulsive infrasound (inaudible intermittent noise) produced by wind turbines. Yet instead of dealing with the problem it has, on the most generous interpretation, swept the issue under the carpet – or worse, been involved in a concerted cover-up operation.

A research paper prepared in November 1987 for the US Department of Energy demonstrated that the “annoyance” caused by wind turbine noise to nearby residents is “real not imaginary.” It further showed that, far from becoming inured to the disturbance people become increasingly sensitive to it over time.

This contradicts claims frequently made by wind industry spokesmen that there is no evidence for so-called Wind Turbine Syndrome (the various health issues ranging from insomnia and anxiety to palpitations and nausea reported by residents living within a mile or more of wind turbines). Until recently, RenewableUK – the British wind industry’s trade body – claimed on its website: “In over 25 years and with more than 68,000 machines installed around the world, no member of the public has ever been harmed by the normal operation of wind farms.”

In a section called Top Myths About Wind Energy’ section it claimed that accusations that wind farms emit ‘infrasound and cause associated health problems’ are ‘unscientific’.

Other pro-wind campaigners, such as Australian public health professor Simon Chapman, have gone still further by insisting that the symptoms reported by Wind Turbine Syndrome victims around the world are imaginary and often politically motivated.

But the 1987 report, based on earlier research by NASA and several universities, tells a different story. A team led by physicist ND Kelley from the Solar Energy Research Institute in Golden, Colorado tested under controlled conditions the impact of low-frequency noise generated by turbine blades.

It found that the disturbance is often worse when indoors than when outside (a sensation which will be familiar to anyone who has heard a helicopter hovering above their house).


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2 Responses to Wind turbines ARE a human health hazard: the smoking gun

  1. Lucille Glenn August 9, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    The “Kelly paper” is just one of many studies and reports published in the period from 1980 to 1990 by acousticians and other researchers working under grants from the US Dept. of Energy (DOE), NASA, and other agencies and foundations. All of these papers are still available on web sites open to the public. I have attached one of the later papers (“Wind Turbine Acoustics, Hubbard and Shepherd”) that summarize many of those studies. The acoustical conferences, at least those here in the US, all had presentations on wind turbine noise and it was one of the “hot” topics in the field. Earlier papers such as the 1982 Hubbard paper on Noise Induced House Vibrations was reporting some of the early research showing wind turbines were heard at lower auditory thresholds and that the infrasound was affecting people inside homes in much the same was jet noise at airports was affecting communities along flight paths. As a general rule, all of this research noted the need for caution if large upwind wind turbines of the type being installed today were to be located near homes and communities. As you can see in the Kelly paper there was concern over health impacts by the research community. Concurrent with this type of work the US DOD and NASA were investigating human response to infrasonic sound and vibration to help select candidates for jet pilots and space missions. This led to studies of nauseogenicity like the “1987 report on Motion Sickness Symptoms and Postural Changes……” Suffice it to say that between the issues of dynamically modulated infra and low frequency sound causing adverse health effects called “Sick Building Syndrome,” similar effects observed from wind turbines leading to the Kelley paper, military interest in motion sickness and other similar issues for large ships with slowly rotating engines to jet aircraft noise few acousticians in that period would have discounted the premise that for some people these types of sounds posed serious issues.

    • louistheguy August 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

      Hi lucille would you mind posting a link to that paper wind turbine acoustic please or email me a pdf to [email protected] please

      Many thanks louistheguy



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