New Findings About Wind Turbine Noise and Human Health

SOURCE, ” On the Level: Quarterly Newsletter of the Vestibular Disorders Association (Summer 2010, p. 9)“Wind Turbines Can Affect Inner Ear Function,

Scientists have determined how infrasound from wind turbines may influence inner ear function.

An increasing number of people living near wind turbines report a group of symptoms termed “wind turbine syndrome” that include sleeplessness, dizziness, fatigue, ear pain and pressure, difficulty concentrating, and headache.

Up until now, many scientists who study hearing claimed that noise from wind turbines couldn’t be harmful because it occurred at a frequency too low for most people to hear.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri successfully challenged this conventional wisdom that “what you can’t hear won’t hurt you.” They noted that one type of inner-ear sensory cell behaves differently when encountering infrasound.

Usually these cells respond to sound by contracting and expanding proteins within their walls, amplifying vibrations, which in turn stimulate other sensory cells to send electrical signals about sound to the brain. However, the proteins do not respond in the same way to infrasound and instead actively prevent stimulation of the cells that transmit sound signals.

So, while the brain may not receive information about sound, a physiological response to infrasound has occurred in both the cochlea and the other sensory structures in the inner ear such as the saccule, possibly explaining the unfamiliar sensations experienced by some people.


Salt AN, Huller TE. “Responses of the ear to low frequency sounds, infrasound and wind turbines.” CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD Hearing Research 2010 Sep 1;268(1-2):12-21. Epub 2010 Jun 16.

PSC Chairman Azar's concerns about lack of safety net for Wisconsin Residents

"While I support the overall rule because it will promote the development of wind in Wisconsin, the rule fails to provide a much-needed safety net for people whose health declines because of a Wind Turbine located near their home."

-PSC Commissioner Lauren Azar



From PSC commissioner Lauren Azar

To The Honorable Fred Risser      The Honorable Michael Sheridan
The State Senate                       The State Assembly

State Capitol, Room 220 South State Capitol, Room 211 West

Madison, WI 53702 Madison, WI 53702
Re:Wind Siting Rules, Clearinghouse Rule 10-057

Dear Senate President Risser and Speaker Sheridan:

I write to explain my concurrence with the Commission’s rule on the siting of certain wind energy systems (Wind Turbines) in Wisconsin.

While I support the overall rule because it will promote the development of wind in Wisconsin, the rule fails to provide a much-needed safety net for people whose health declines because of a Wind Turbine located near their home.

The safety net I propose would be a minimal burden to wind developers while simultaneously protecting Wisconsin citizens who are sensitive to the noise emitted from Wind Turbines.

Among other things, 2009 Wisconsin Act 40 requires the Commission to develop rules that “provide reasonable protection from any health affects” associated with Wind Turbines. Wis. Stat. § 196.378(4g)(b).

There is substantial evidence that noise from Wind Turbines could negatively impact the health of a small percentage of the population.

To better ensure compliance with Act 40’s mandate, I proposed the following safety net: under limited circumstances, the owner of a Wind Turbine must purchase, at fair market value, the home of someone who can prove that a nearby Wind Turbine is directly causing a significant adverse health outcome. [1]

Unfortunately, at this time, we cannot accurately identify the precise line between safe levels of noise from Wind Turbines and those levels that will negatively affect human health.

Nor do we know why a small percentage of the population is affected more negatively by Wind Turbines than the rest of the population.

As new information becomes available, the Commission can revise this rule.

While more study is needed to better understand the full health impacts of Wind Turbines, it is important that we establish some remedy for the people who can prove that their health is being compromised by nearby Wind Turbines before the Commission has an opportunity to revise this rule.

To be clear, this safety net does not include awarding damages to the injured party; instead, it allows the injured party to move quickly from the area, thereby abating health concerns.

The safety net would be limited to landowners who provide evidence (in the form of a certification) from a licensed Wisconsin medical doctor that one or more Wind Turbines have directly caused a significant adverse health outcome on the injured party.

The only impact to the owner of the Wind Turbine(s) would be the need to resell the house.

Hence, the proposed safety net would not be an onerous requirement on the Wind Turbine owner and should not hamper wind development in Wisconsin.

The safety net could be structured as follows:

“PSC 128.XX Individual Hardships. If the owner of a nonparticipating residence experiences adverse health outcomes that are shown to be the direct result of the operation of a wind energy system, the owner of the nonparticipating residence may petition the political subdivision for mitigation of the adverse health outcomes.

The petition for mitigation shall be referred to the Commission, which may order mitigation of the adverse health outcomes.

A medical doctor licensed in the State of Wisconsin shall attest that that one or more wind turbine(s) have caused a significant adverse health outcome on the injured party before any relief may be granted under this section.

Mitigation may include requiring the owner of the wind energy system to purchase the nonparticipating residence at fair market value.

Note: The Wind Siting Council may make recommendations with respect to the form and type of information that is required to show that adverse health outcomes are the direct result of the operation of a wind energy system.

Absent a safety net provision like this, it is unclear how an injured party could obtain mitigation of adverse health outcomes from a Wind Turbine owner.

If they are unable to sell their property for fair market value, injured parties would be forced to file suit against the owner of a Wind Turbine.

This could require the injured party to incur significant legal costs that are not recoverable in a lawsuit and may dwarf the value of the home.

The State of Wisconsin should not place its citizens in this position.

In conclusion, while I concur with the rule as a package, I remain concerned that this rule fails to protect the most vulnerable of our community and, therefore, I must qualify my support of this important rule. When this rule is referred to the appropriate standing committees, please forward a copy of this letter with the rule.


Lauren Azar

[1] The operation of this safety net proposal is not unprecedented. The Commission recently identified that the purchase of property at fair market value was a potential remedy for two landowners affected by a large wind energy development. Because the two landowners had a significant number of Wind Turbines within view from their homes, the Commission required mitigation, including the possibility that the utility purchase the properties at fair market value. The utility did not object to this potential remedy and has since purchased the properties.

Links to documents supporting larger setbacks from homes

Three reports, created specifically to guide legislators in wind turbine siting decisions, and alert them to areas of concern, all identify a half mile as the minimum setback needed to mitigate major problems from turbine noise and shadow flicker.

The Reports include:

The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies of Science Report "Environmental Impacts of Wind-Energy Projects". (2007) [Download Document]

The Congressional Research Service Report prepared for Members and Committees of Congress "Wind Power in the United States: Technology, Economic, and Policy Issues (2008) [Download document]

The Minnesota Department of Health, Environmental Health Division In response to a request from: Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security: "Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines" (2009) [Download Document]




Better Plan, Rock County
Rock County Tax-Payers for a Better Renewable Energy Plan

Wind Ordinances - Wisconsin State, County, and Town

The Town of Union Final Report


Larger Setback Summary Chart, pages 99 and forward from “Town of Union Setback Recommendations Report”

Wind farm causing a stir
Blair County - 2500 foot setback

Towns in the state of Wisconsin
2640 feet setback

The Noise Heard Round the World - the trouble with industrial wind turbines
1/2 mile more or more setback

Simple guidelines for siting wind turbines to prevent health risks
George W. Kamperman, INCE Bd. Cert. Emeritus Kamperman Associates, Inc.
Richard R. James, INCE E-Coustic Solutions
1km (3280 feet) or more setback

French Academy of Medicine warns of wind turbine noise
1.5km (.9-mile) setback

Trempealeau County, Wisconsin
1-mile setback

National Wind Watch
1-mile setback

U.K. Noise Association
1-mile setback
U.K. Noise Association: 1 mile setback needed for wind turbines
UK Noise Association - Wind Farms are Causing Noise Problems

Beech Ridge Wind Farm, West Virginia
1 to 4 miles setback

Deal reached in wind turbine dispute - Fayette County
6000 foot setback

Noise Radiation from Wind Turbines Installed New Homes: Effects o Health
2km (1.2 mile) setback

Location, Location, Location. An investigation into wind farms and noise by the Noise Association
1 to 1.5 mile setback

Are wind farm turbines making people sick? Some say yes.
1.5 mile setback

Dr. Nina Pierport
1.5 mile setback, more for mountainous geography
Health Effects of Wind Turbine Noise
Noisy Wind and Hot Air
Wind Turbine Syndrome - testimony before the New York State Legislature Energy Committee
except from rebuttal to Noble Environmental’s draft Environmental Impact Statement regarding noise, shadow flicker, and health

Wind Turbines, Noise and Health
Dr. Amanda Harry
1.5 mile setback

Riverside County, California
2-mile setback

Marjolaine Villey-Migraine
Docteur en sciences de l’information et de la communication, Université Paris II-Panthéon-Assas, Sp&egravecialiste de l’Information Scientifique et Technique (IST)
5 km (3.1 miles)

Microseismic and Infrasound Monitoring of Low Frequency Noise and Vibrations from Windfarms
10km (6.2-mile) setback


Facts About Wind Energy and Noise

“Anti-noise” Silences Wind Turbines, publication date August 2008

New England Wind Forum: Wind Turbine Sound
US Department of Energy

“Noise Radiation from Wind Turbines Installed Near Homes: Effects on Health.”
with an annotated review of the research and related issues
by Barbara J Frey, BA, MA and Peter J Hadden, BSc, FRICS

Noise pollution from wind turbines
September 20, 2007 by Julian Davis and S. Jane Davis

This is a list of publications from the Acoustics Laboratory and the Department of Acoustics from the period from 1974 until now. The list is sorted in chronological order starting with the most recent papers.

Listen to the sound of the future
Noise from wind turbines, roads or railways can be a very sensitive issue. But a unique technology - Auralisation - lets you listen to the future sounds before making important and costly decisions
Specialist Soren Vase Legarth
Tel. +45 72 19 46 10

Simple guidelines for siting wind turbines to prevent health risks
George W. Kamperman, INCE Bd. Cert. Emeritus Kamperman Associates, Inc.
Richard R. James, INCE E-Coustic Solutions

The “How To” Guide to Siting Wind Turbines to Prevent Health Risks from Sound
George W. Kamperman PE and Richard R. James INCE,%20(

Low Frequency Noise from Large Wind Turbines
Delta Project EFP-06. Client: Danish Energy Authority$File/EFP06-LF%20Noise-Evaluation%20of%20audibility%20and%20literature%20study%20AV%201098%2008.pdf

Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise
Lyon, France. September 20-21, 2007

“Noisy Wind and Hot Air,” Nina Pierpoint, MD, PhD
(extract) “There need to be funds to cover damages to the health, property values, and quality of life of nearby residents, should these occur.”

Excerpts from the Final Report on the Township of Lincoln Wind Turbine Moratorium Committee
(extract) “As a result of so many noise complaints, The Moratorium Committee ordered WPS to conduct a noise study. . . . [T]he study established that the turbines added 5-20 dB(A) to the ambient sound. A 10-dB increase is perceived as a doubling of noise level. As soon as the noise study was published in 2001, WPS conceded that these homes were rendered uninhabitable by the noise of the turbines and made buyout offers for the neighboring homes.”

Wind Farm Noise and Regulations in the Eastern United States
Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise

Acoustic Trauma: Bioeffects of Sound
Alex Davies BFS Honours

A Review of Published Resarch on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects
Report for Defra by Dr. Geoff Leventhall

Noise Background
DART (Dorest Against Rural Turbines)

Project WINDFARMperception
Visual and acoustic impact of wind turbine farms on residents
Wind turbines more annoying than expected

G.P. van den Berg
Wind turbines at night: acoustical practice and sound research
Science Shop for Physics, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Effects of the wind profile at night on wind turbine sound
Journal of Sound and Vibration

Vibroacoustic Disease
N.A.A. Castelo Branco and M. Alves-Pereira

Wind Turbine Acoustic Noise
Renewable Energy Research Laboratory


Stop Ill Wind
The Top Ten False and Misleading Claims the Windpower Industry Makes for Projects in the Eastern United States

Misplaced State Government Faith in “Wind Energy”
An Analysis and Report by Glenn R. Schleede

CRS Report for Congress: Wind Power in the United States, Technology, Economic, and Policy Issues
Jeffrey Logan and Stan Mark Kaplan
Specialist in Energy Policy
Resources, Science, and Industry Division

Rural Power
Community-Sealed Renewable Energy and Rural Economic Development
John Farrell and David Morris

9/5/10 Err on the side of caution or profit? Why these two doctors disagree on wind farm health effects AND A day late and a dollar short: Too bad,Town of Glenmore


SOURCE: Toronto Sun

September 4, 2010

By Jonathan Sher

LONDON, Ont. - They're in a fight that could shape wind power in Ontario, billions of dollars of investment and the green reputation of Dalton McGuinty's Liberals.

Two UWO academics are clashing over wind farms, each accusing the other's followers of demonizing their cause and bastardizing science.

A champion for those who believe wind turbines are making them sick, Dr. Bob McMurtry was dean of the medical school at the University of Western Ontario from 1992 to 1999.

His wind adversary is Dr. David Colby, an associate professor and medical officer of health in Chatham-Kent who believes the health link is more science fiction than science.

Their clash is more than academic: McMurtry expects both will end up as witnesses on opposing sides in what he hopes will be a landmark case out of Prince Edward County in Eastern Ontario challenging Ontario's Green Energy Act, which threw open the door for wind farms as part of a plan to ween Ontario off coal-fired power plants.

While both say they respect each other personally, neither can fathom the position of the other and each says he has been vilified by those on the opposing side.

"This was a vendetta against me," says Colby, who defended himself and his medical licence in the face of complaints he was a paid lackey of the wind industry, complaints dismissed by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Colby says he became the target of those he calls anti-wind activists after he was asked by politicians in Chatham-Kent to review medical literature to see if there was evidence turbines harmed people's health -- he concluded there was none.

"Hostility would be a good word to describe the reception to my work," he says.

McMurtry, too, says he has been attacked, accused of being an anti-environmental Neanderthal when the truth is the opposite.

"They libel and slander their opponents," he says of advocates for industrial wind farms.

McMurtry says he's concerned about climate change and pollution but contends coal-powered plants in Ontario are a tiny part of the problem and could easily be closed without building wind farms.

Beneath the heated rhetoric is a disagreement over science itself. While both agree some people near wind turbines complain of health issues, from there the two men venture down wildly divergent paths.

McMurtry believes turbines are the most likely culprit to ailments suffered by those close to them, the most common being the inability to sleep well, which increases the risk of chronic and deadly disease.

Turbines emit low-pitched sounds, some so low they're sensed only as vibration. Some turbine opponents argue those vibrations disrupt the body's normal rhythms and cause a long list of ailments. An American doctor, Nina Pierpont, reported complaints of headaches, ringing in the ears, dizziness, nausea, rapid heart rate, irritability and problems with concentration and memory.

Despite those who say there's a link, the Ontario government has given its blessing to a wind industry that may build $20 billion worth of turbines across the province and in its lakes.

McMurtry says Queen's Park should instead spend $1 million on research to establish how far back turbines need to be to safeguard health. Regulations require a 550-metre setback but McMurtry suspects a two-kilometre buffer is needed.

McMurtry is passionate about his cause. A former missionary, he says he's spent 3,000 hours on the issue and he created a YouTube video near his home in eastern Ontario's Prince Edward County, where wind farms are planned for the land and Lake Ontario.

"All of us need to act to oppose this madness," he says on the video.

Colby sees madness, too -- but from anti-wind activists.

The so-called ailments are common and have many causes unrelated to wind turbines, he says.

Colby reviewed studies of turbines twice -- first for Chatham-Kent council, then at the request of wind power associations, the latter as part of an international panel of scientists.

Peer-reviewed studies found no link between ailments and turbines except one: A small number of people become upset by the presence of turbines and those feelings created stress that can contribute to their symptoms, he says.

There's also no scientific basis to believe sub-audible sounds affect health -- the only study that purported that wasn't replicated elsewhere and involved the much louder sounds of airplanes, he says.

Turbines emit sounds difficult to detect because they can be drowned out by the sound of wind rustling tree branches and grass, he says.

The research McMurtry and Pierpont rely upon is anecdotal and holds no scientific validity, says Colby, pointing out Pierpont interviewed only 38 people in 10 households.

"She selected the most upset and angry people, had friends look (at her work) and claimed it was peer reviewed. It's the most extreme example of selection bias that I have ever seen as a scientist. It's a joke," Colby says.

Pierpont, a pediatrician, began her research after energy companies built turbines in communities near hers in upstate New York.

She defends her research and findings, saying some of those who reviewed it had no personal connection to her.

The families she selected were so certain turbines made them ill that all but one had moved away. When they were away from turbines, their symptoms abated, she says.

Half the 10 homes in her study were in Canada, though Pierpont won't disclose where, saying she signed confidentiality agreements.

Asked about Colby's findings, she says, "It's completely self-serving for an industry report to say no further research is needed."

Colby insists he has no stake in the wind industry and sometimes wishes he hadn't become embroiled in the controversy. He was forced to defend himself after someone sought to take away his medical licence after he accepted a $1,500 honorarium to speak at a forum held by SkyPower, an energy company that once planned to build turbines in Prince Edward County.

The College dismissed the complaints after Colby said the honorarium was customary among specialist physicians and his opinions weren't "for sale or rent."

"The committee does not agree that Dr. Colby was acting unethically . . . There is no information to suggest that Dr. Colby was promoting the views and aims of the corporation who retained him," the college wrote in its November decision.

The committee did offer one caution that grates on Colby and has been seized upon by those opposing wind turbines: "Colby's expertise is in medical microbiology and infectious diseases, an area quite distinct from audiology or other fields related to the physical impact of wind turbines on human health. Thus, the committee wishes to remind Dr. Colby, going forward, of the importance of fully disclosing the extent of his qualifications in a field in which he has been retained as an 'expert.' "

Colby defends his knowledge of turbines and points out that his adversary, McMurtry, was trained in orthopedic surgery.

He also dismisses as a waste of tax dollars any further research on the health effects of turbines. With Canada's health care already suffering from a lack of funding, it's not worth it to spend more to prove what's already clear just to "shut up a bunch of activists who probably wouldn't be satisfied anyways," Colby says.

He continues to have to defend his expertise -- the person who lodged the complaint has appealed to the College's health professions appeal and review board.


Green Energy Act: Dalton McGuinty's Ontario government passed the Act in 2009 with the goal of eliminating coal plants and creating 50,000 "green energy" jobs over three years. The act made it much easier for green energy companies to build facilities and takes away the ability of cities and towns to block wind, solar and biofuel generation.

Legal challenge: A Prince Edward County man has challenged the Act, asking the courts not to allow wind turbines within two kilometres of a dwelling, nearly four times as far as the current buffer of 550 metres.

Local opposition: Wind farms in the London region have drawn some opposition in rural communities and that circle of concern is growing in the face of proposals for wind turbines offshore in Lake Huron, something that would affect city dwellers with lakefront cottages.



SOURCE: Green Bay Press-Gazette,

September 5, 2010

By Tony Walter,

The eight wind turbines being built in the town of Glenmore would never have been allowed if they had to comply with the siting rules newly approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, a state wind energy expert said.

“That project would be almost impossible to situate in Wisconsin” under the PSC guidelines, said Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, a Madison nonprofit group that promotes clean energy. “Those will be the tallest and largest wind turbines in the state.”

CH Shirley Wind LLC has begun construction of a 20-megawatt wind facility that includes a 20-year power purchase contract with Wisconsin Public Service Corp. The company said last year that it was investing $50 million in the project.

The PSC on Monday adopted rules for projects that produce less than 100 megawatts of power, but the Shirley Wind project, with 492-foot-high turbines, can proceed under the grandfather clause.

Those rules include stringent limits on where turbines can be placed on someone’s property, using a formula based on the height of the turbines and their distance from residences, property lines, public roads and overhead electric transmission lines.

Vickerman praised the PSC for adopting what he called “the strongest statewide rules of any place in the nation. If you look at the rules as a layer of different conditions, the sum total result in a very stringent list of requirements. You won’t find that in Ohio or Minnesota.”

In addition to the setback limits, the PSC put limits on shadow flickers and noise levels. It also gave local governments the authority to require wind energy system owners to compensate property owners located within one-half mile of a wind turbine site who don’t have turbines on their land.

It remains to be seen what impact the new rules will have on the proposed Ledge Wind Project planned by Invenergy LLC in the towns of Morrison, Glenmore, Holland and Wrightstown in southern Brown County. The company wants to build 100 wind turbines exceeding 100 megawatts, which puts it outside the scope of the new rules.

Ed Marion is a Madison-based attorney who has been hired by the Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy — a nonprofit composed of local residents and led by a board of directors — which opposes the southern Brown County wind farm proposal.

Marion said he expects the company to soon re-file its application for the Ledge Wind development with the additional knowledge of the PSC rules for smaller projects.

“I think everybody had to wait to see what the rules looked like,” Marion said. “Even if (the rules) don’t apply, they are influential.”

The PSC rules still can be altered by the state Legislature although changes from elected officials aren’t expected.

Invenergy officials are taking a cautious approach.

“Wisconsin’s wind siting rules and standards remain in flux as the Legislature and regulators work out the details,” said Kevin Parzyck, project manager for the Ledge Wind Farm. “Meanwhile, we continue to evaluate updating our Ledge Wind Farm permit application to the Public Service Commission.”

The PSC staff will review the revised Invenergy application. If it is complete, it will be sent to the commission, which will have six months to act on it. A hearing will be scheduled.

“We’ve requested to intervene as a party,” said Marion, speaking of Brown County group opposed to the wind farm development.

The PSC’s decision in January to approve the Glacier Hills wind farm project in Columbia County will probably have a greater impact on the Invenergy application because it is also more than 100 megawatts.

The 90-turbine wind farm is owned by the Wisconsin Electric Power Company and includes 90 turbines. Construction began this spring.

“We’ll probably see elements of the (new) rules incorporated in whatever order the commission issues, but the commission is not compelled to,” he said. “The rule does not forbid the agency from taking a stand and applying it to all projects.”