Since the operations at Little Raith began, we have been receiving a growing number of reports from residents in Lochgelly and Auchtertool regarding their quality of life and health impacts. The symptoms that have been reported to us, include;
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Headaches and Migraines
- Ringing in the Ears (Tinnitus)
- Pressure on the ears, sometimes resulting in pain
- Pressure on the body
- Loss of hearing
- Sleep disturbances and waking up tired
- Annoyance and irritability
- Anxiety and depression
Residents that have been reporting their symptoms to us, claim that the symptoms only started to appear after the turbines at Little Raith were fully operational. Residents report that the symptoms usually surface depending on the speed of the turbine blades, the direction of the turbines and local atmospheric conditions. Our group also note that these symptoms are also symptoms that can be found in those exposed to Infrasound, Low Frequency Noise, and increasing Sound Pressure Levels (SPL), all of which are produced by Industrial Wind Turbines.
Industrial Wind Turbines and HealthBelow we are presenting a summary of some peer reviewed and conference articles, their abstracts and citations, regarding adverse health effects and wind turbines.
Abstract: Wind turbines produce sound that is capable of disturbing local residents and is reported to cause annoyance, sleep disturbance, and other health-related impacts. An acoustical study was conducted to investigate the presence of infrasonic and low-frequency noise emissions from wind turbines located in Falmouth, Massachusetts, USA. During the study, the investigating acousticians experienced adverse health effects consistent with those reported by some Falmouth residents. The authors conclude that wind turbine acoustic energy was found to be greater than or uniquely distinguishable from the ambient background levels and capable of exceeding human detection thresholds. The authors emphasize the need for epidemiological and laboratory research by health professionals and acousticians concerned with public health and well-being to develop effective and precautionary setback distances for industrial wind turbines that protect residents from wind turbine sound.
Abstract: Falmouth, Massachusetts has experienced non-predicted adverse acoustic and health impacts from an industrial wind turbine (IWT) sited close to neighbors. The public response from this quiet rural area has been very vocal for a majority of homeowners living within 3000-ft. Complaints have ranged from the unexpectedly loud with constant fluctuations and the non-audible pressure fluctuations causing a real loss of public health and well-being. Early research indicates that both the IHC and OHC functions of the ear receive stimulation during moderate to strong wind speeds. This research presents a challenge to noise control and health professionals to determine the causal factors for the adverse public health impacts. This case study will present sound level and analyzed measurement data obtained while living in a house 1700-ft from an operating IWT during moderate to strong hub height wind speeds. There was a strong correlation with wind speed, power output and health symptoms.
Abstract: Research linking loud sounds to hearing loss in youngsters is now widespread, resulting in the issuance of warnings to protect children’s hearing. However, studies attesting to the adverse effects of intrusive sounds and noise on children’s overall mental and physical health and well-being have not received similar attention. This, despite the fact that many studies have demonstrated that intrusive noises such as those from passing road traffic, nearby rail systems, and overhead aircraft can adversely affect children’s cardiovascular system, memory, language development, and learning acquisition. While some schools in the United States have received funds to abate intrusive aircraft noise, for example, many schools still expose children to noises from passing traffic and overhead aircraft. Discussion focuses on the harmful effects of noise on children, what has to be done to remedy the situation, and the need for action to lessen the impacts of noise from all sources. Furthermore, based on our knowledge of the harmful effects of noise on children’s health and the growing body of evidence to suggest the potential harmful effects of industrial wind turbine noise, it is strongly urged that further studies be conducted on the impacts of industrial wind turbines on their health, as well as the health of their parents, before forging ahead in siting industrial wind turbines.
Abstract: Seems to affect health adversely and an independent review of evidence is needed.
The evidence for adequate sleep as a prerequisite for human health, particularly child health, is overwhelming. Governments have recently paid much attention to the effects of environmental noise on sleep duration and quality, and to how to reduce such noise. However, governments have also imposed noise from industrial wind turbines on large swathes of peaceful countryside.
The impact of road, rail, and aircraft noise on sleep and daytime functioning (sleepiness and cognitive function) is well established. Shortly after wind turbines began to be erected close to housing, complaints emerged of adverse effects on health. Sleep disturbance was the main complaint. Such reports have been dismissed as being subjective and anecdotal, but experts contend that the quantity, consistency, and ubiquity of the complaints constitute epidemiological evidence of a strong link between wind turbine noise, ill health, and disruption of sleep.
Abstract: People who live near wind turbines complain of symptoms that include some combination of the following: difficulty sleeping, fatigue, depression, irritability, aggressiveness, cognitive dysfunction, chest pain/pressure, headaches, joint pain, skin irritations, nausea, dizziness, tinnitus, and stress. These symptoms have been attributed to the pressure (sound) waves that wind turbines generate in the form of noise and infrasound. However, wind turbines also generate electromagnetic waves in the form of poor power quality (dirty electricity) and ground current, and these can adversely affect those who are electrically hypersensitive. Indeed, the symptoms mentioned above are consistent with electrohypersensitivity. Sensitivity to both sound and electromagnetic waves differs among individuals and may explain why not everyone in the same home experiences similar effects. Ways to mitigate the adverse health effects of wind turbines are presented.
Abstract: This article explores the loss of social justice reported by individuals living in the environs of industrial wind turbines (IWTs). References indicate that some individuals residing in proximity to IWT facilities experience adverse health effects. These adverse health effects are severe enough that some families have abandoned their homes. Individuals report they welcomed IWTs into their community and the negative consequences were unexpected. Expressions of grief are exacerbated by the emotional and physical toll of individuals’ symptoms, loss of enjoyment of homes and property, disturbed living conditions, financial loss, and the lack of society’s recognition of their situation. The author has investigated the reported loss of social justice through a review of literature, personal interviews with, and communications from, those reporting adverse health effects. The author’s intention is to create awareness that loss of social justice is being associated with IWT development. This loss of justice arises from a number of factors, including the lack of fair process, the loss of rights, and associated disempowerment. These societal themes require further investigation. Research by health professionals and social scientists is urgently needed to address the health and social impacts of IWTs operating near family homes.
Abstract: In Canada the Ontario Government has adopted wind energy as a renewable energy source. Our research in Ontario documents some individuals living in the environs of wind turbines report experiencing physiological and psychological symptoms, reduced quality of life, degraded living conditions, and adverse social economic impacts. Some families have abandoned their homes or negotiated financial agreements with wind energy developers. Wind turbine noise is a reported cause of these effects; however, some commentators suggest sound from wind turbines does not pose a risk of any adverse health effect in humans. These competing claims can confuse authorities responsible for establishing noise guidelines. An Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal considered a wide body of evidence including expert testimony and found wind turbines can harm humans if placed too close to residents. Risks must be understood to ensure guidelines protect human health. Evidence including peer reviewed literature, case reports, freedom of information documents and expert testimony will be presented which support the conclusion that wind turbines, if placed too close to residents, can harm human health.
Abstract: As wind turbines get larger, worries have emerged that the turbine noise would move down in frequency and that the low-frequency noise would cause annoyance for the neighbors. The noise emission from 48 wind turbines with nominal electric power up to 3.6 MW is analyzed and discussed. The relative amount of low-frequency noise is higher for large turbines (2.3–3.6 MW) than for small turbines (2 MW), and the difference is statistically significant. The difference can also be expressed as a downward shift of the spectrum of approximately one-third of an octave. A further shift of similar size is suggested for future turbines in the 10MW range. Due to the air absorption, the higher low-frequency content becomes even more pronounced, when sound pressure levels in relevant neighbor distances are considered. Even when A-weighted levels are considered, a substantial part of the noise is at low frequencies, and for several of the investigated large turbines, the one-third-octave band with the highest level is at or below 250 Hz. It is thus beyond any doubt that the low-frequency part of the spectrum plays an important role in the noise at the neighbors.
Abstract: Internationally, there are reports of adverse health effects (AHE) in the environs of industrial wind turbines (IWT). There was multidisciplinary confirmation of the key characteristics of the AHE at the first international symposium on AHE/IWT. The symptoms being reported are consistent internationally and are characterized by crossover findings or a predictable appearance of signs and symptoms present with exposure to IWT sound energy and amelioration when the exposure ceases. There is also a revealed preference of victims to seek restoration away from their homes. This article identifies the need to create a case definition to establish a clinical diagnosis. A case definition is proposed that identifies the sine qua non diagnostic criteria for a diagnosis of adverse health effects in the environs of industrial wind turbines. Possible, probable, and confirmed diagnoses are detailed. The goal is to foster the adoption of a common case definition that will facilitate future research efforts.
Abstract: There is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby residents, usually stress-disorder type diseases, at a nontrivial rate. The bulk of the evidence takes the form of thousands of adverse event reports. There is also a small amount of systematically gathered data. The adverse event reports provide compelling evidence of the seriousness of the problems and of causation in this case because of their volume, the ease of observing exposure and outcome incidence, and case-crossover data. Proponents of turbines have sought to deny these problems by making a collection of contradictory claims including that the evidence does not “count,” the outcomes are not “real” diseases, the outcomes are the victims’ own fault, and that acoustical models cannot explain why there are health problems so the problems must not exist. These claims appeared to have swayed many nonexpert observers, though they are easily debunked. Moreover, though the failure of models to explain the observed problems does not deny the problems, it does mean that we do not know what, other than kilometers of distance, could sufficiently mitigate the effects. There has been no policy analysis that justifies imposing these effects on local residents. The attempts to deny the evidence cannot be seen as honest scientific disagreement and represent either gross incompetence or intentional bias.
Abstract: Infrasonic sounds are generated internally in the body (by respiration, heartbeat, coughing, etc) and by external sources, such as air conditioning systems, inside vehicles, some industrial processes and, now becoming increasingly prevalent, wind turbines. It is widely assumed that infrasound presented at an amplitude below what is audible has no influence on the ear. In this review, we consider possible ways that low frequency sounds, at levels that may or may not be heard, could influence the function of the ear. The inner ear has elaborate mechanisms to attenuate low frequency sound components before they are transmitted to the brain. The auditory portion of the ear, the cochlea, has two types of sensory cells, inner hair cells (IHC) and outer hair cells (OHC), of which the IHC are coupled to the afferent fibers that transmit “hearing” to the brain. The sensory stereocilia (“hairs”) on the IHC are “fluid coupled” to mechanical stimuli, so their responses depend on stimulus velocity and their sensitivity decreases as sound frequency is lowered. In contrast, the OHC are directly coupled to mechanical stimuli, so their input remains greater than for IHC at low frequencies. At very low frequencies the OHC are stimulated by sounds at levels below those that are heard. Although the hair cells in other sensory structures such as the saccule may be tuned to infrasonic frequencies, auditory stimulus coupling to these structures is inefficient so that they are unlikely to be influenced by airborne infrasound. Structures that are involved in endolymph volume regulation are also known to be influenced by infrasound, but their sensitivity is also thought to be low. There are, however, abnormal states in which the ear becomes hypersensitive to infrasound. In most cases, the inner ear’s responses to infrasound can be considered normal, but they could be associated with unfamiliar sensations or subtle changes in physiology. This raises the possibility that exposure to the infrasound component of wind turbine noise could influence the physiology of the ear.
Abstract: Unweighted sound measurements show that wind turbines generate high levels of infrasound. It has been wrongly assumed that if subjects cannot hear the infrasound component of the noise then they cannot be affected by it. On the contrary, the mammalian ear is highly sensitive to infrasound stimulation at levels below those that are heard. Most aspects of responses to infrasound are far from well established. Measurements made within the endolymphatic system of the cochlea show responses that become larger, relative to measurements made in perilymph, as frequency is lowered. This suggests that endolymphatic responses to infrasound are enhances in some manner. For high-frequency sound, acoustic stimuli in the ear are summed. In contrast, the inner ear’s responses to infrasound are suppressed by the presence of higher frequency stimuli. The complexity of the ear’s response to infrasound leads us to the conclusion that there are many aspects that need to be better understood before the influence of wind turbine noise on the ear can be dismissed as insignificant.
Abstract: Wind turbines generate low-frequency sounds that affect the ear. The ear is superficially similar to a microphone, converting mechanical sound waves into electrical signals, but does this by complex physiologic processes. Serious misconceptions about low-frequency sound and the ear have resulted from a failure to consider in detail how the ear works. Although the cells that provide hearing are insensitive to infrasound, other sensory cells in the ear are much more sensitive, which can be demonstrated by electrical recordings. Responses to infrasound reach the brain through pathways that do not involve conscious hearing but instead may produce sensations of fullness, pressure or tinnitus, or have no sensation. Activation of subconscious pathways by infrasound could disturb sleep. Based on our current knowledge of how the ear works, it is quite possible that low-frequency sounds at the levels generated by wind turbines could affect those living nearby.
Abstract: We report a cross-sectional study comparing the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of individuals residing in the proximity of a wind farm to those residing in a demographically matched area sufficiently displaced from wind turbines. The study employed a nonequivalent comparison group posttest-only design. Self-administered questionnaires, which included the brief version of the World Health Organization quality of life scale, were delivered to residents in two adjacent areas in semirural New Zealand. Participants were also asked to identify annoying noises, indicate their degree of noise sensitivity, and rate amenity. Statistically significant differences were noted in some HRQOL domain scores, with residents living within 2 km of a turbine installation reporting lower overall quality of life, physical quality of life, and environmental quality of life. Those exposed to turbine noise also reported significantly lower sleep quality, and rated their environment as less restful. Our data suggest that wind farm noise can negatively impact facets of HRQOL.
Abstract: Wind turbines are known to cause a number of effects that have an impact on health: risks from ice throw and structural failures that are minimised by appropriate setback distances; noise and shadow flicker that are sources of annoyance, sleep disturbance and symptoms of stress in some people.
Current mitigations do not entirely deal with the annoyance caused by wind farms, the results of which are a cause of distress and related ill health for a number of people living in the vicinity.
- Wind Turbine Acoustic Investigation: Infrasound and Low-Frequency Noise – A Case Study by Stephen E. Ambrose, Robert W. Rand and Carmen M. E. Krogh. Bulletin of Science Technology & Society published online 17 August 2012, http://bst.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/07/30/0270467612455734 ↩
- Falmouth, Massachusetts wind turbine infrasound and low frequency noise measurements by Stephen E. Ambrose, Robert W. Rand and Carmen M. E. Krogh. Invited paper presented at Inter-noise 2012m New York City, NY ↩
- The Noise from Wind Turbines: Potential Adverse Impacts on Children’s Well-Being by Dr Arline L. Bronzaft. Bulletin of Science Technology & Society 2011. http://bst.sagepub.com/content/31/4/256 ↩
- Editorial: Wind turbine noise by Dr. Christopher D Hanning and Alun Evans, British Medical Journal, www.bmj.com ↩
- Wind Turbines Make Waves: Why Some Residents Near Wind Turbines Become Ill by Magda Havas and David Colling, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society 2011, http://bst.sagepub.com/content/31/5/369 ↩
- Industrial Wind Turbine Development and Loss of Social Justice? by Carmen M.E. Krogh, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society, http://bst.sagepub.com/content/31/4/321 ↩
- Wind turbines can harm humans: a case study by Carmen ME Krogh, Roy D Jeffery, Dr. Jeff Aramini, Brett Horner, Paper presented at Inter-noise 2012, New York City, NY ↩
- Low-frequency noise from large wind turbines by Henrik Møller and Christian Sejer Pedersen, Section of Acoustics, Aalborg University, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7-B5, DK-9220 Aalborg Ø, Denmark, Acoustical Society of America, [DOI: 10.1121/1.3543957 ↩
- Toward a Case Definition of Adverse Health Effects in the Environs of Industrial Wind. Turbines: Facilitating a Clinical Diagnosis by Dr Robert Y. McMurtry, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society 2011, http://bst.sagepub.com/content/31/4/316 ↩
- Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence About the Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines on Nearby Residents by Dr Carl V. Phillips, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society 2011, http://bst.sagepub.com/content/31/4/303 ↩
- Responses of the ear to low frequency sounds, infrasound and wind turbines by Alec N. Salt and T.E. Hullar. Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, 63110, USA. ↩
- Responses of the Inner Ear to Infrasound by Alec N. Salt and Dr. Jeffery T. Lichtenhan, Fourth International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Rome, Italy, 12-14 April 2011 ↩
- Infrasound From Wind Turbines Could Affect Humans by Alec N. Salt and James A. Kaltenbach, Bulletin of Science Technology & Society 2011, http://bst.sagepub.com/content/31/4/296 ↩
- Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health related quality of life by Daniel Shepherd, David McBride, David Welch, Kim N. Dirks, Erin M. Hill, Noise & Health, September-October 2011, www.noiseandhealth.org ↩
- Report on the Health Impacts of Wind Farms – Shetland 2013 by Dr Sarah Taylor, http://www.shb.scot.nhs.uk/board/publichealth/documents/Report_on_Health_Impacts_Wind_Farms.pdf ↩