V is for Vibro-acoustic disease (VAD): What is it, what does it have to do with the siting of industrial-scale wind turbines, and why isn't the state of Wisconsin paying attention?
RED ALERT: Even with growing concern from the medical community about the safety of siting industrial-scale turbines too close to residences, Wisconsin State Senator, Jeff Plale, (D-South Milwaukee) says he is about to introduce a bill which could mandate the hazardous 1000 foot setback and 50 decibel noise limit for the entire state. In a recent news report, Plale declined to give concrete setback and noise limits, saying those things were "still being negotiated."
With who? More wind developers?
An open records request from the Town of Union study committee to the PSC revealed that no medical or scientific data was used to establish the thousand foot setback. The PSC could not produce a single document.
It appears they depended instead upon recommendations of power companies, wind developers,wind lobbyists, and others with vested interests.
The disastrous siting of turbines too close to homes in the town of Byron.
The thought that Senator Plale will introduce a bill which will force the entire state to do the same should make all of us go right to the phone and call our legislators and ask them not to support Senator Plale's turbine reform bill.
Our legislators have assistants whose job it is to answer your call, listen carefully and politely, record your concerns and pass this on to your Senator or Representative. We've found them to be consistantly courteous, professional and helpful.
You can also ask questions. You can ask your legislator if they happen to know what setback and noise-limit is Senator Plale is endorsing, and what it's based on.
If turbine siting reform is to happen, let it be based on the Town of Union ordinance.[Click here to download] Union's 2640 foot setback and 5 decibels over existing sound limit is solidly backed by scientific and medical data, and is the result of 22 months of hard work and research by both citizens and elected officials, and, because it utilized the very latest research and reports as of November, 2008, is considered to be the most up-to-date and defensible ordinance in the state.
What are some of the concerns we're hearing from the medical community about living too close to wind turbines?
Documented in a press release dated May 31, 2007 from the Vibro-Acoustic Disease (VAD) research group in Portugal, people living in the shadow of industrial wind turbines have moved a step closer to understanding the nature of the Wind Turbine Syndrome many of them experience and complain about. [source]
Professor Mariana Alves-Pereira (an acoustical engineer) and Dr. Nuno Castelo Branco (a surgical pathologist) recently took numerous noise/vibration measurements within a Portuguese home surrounded by four (4) industrial wind turbines. The closest turbine is nearly 1000 feet (300 meters), from the affected home. The turbines have been operating since November 2006. The scientific report on this research will be formally presented at Internoise 2007, to be held on 28-31 August in Istanbul, Turkey. May 31, 2007 by Mariana Alves-Pereira, PhD
Excessive exposure to infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN, defined as all acoustical phenomena occurring at or below the frequency bands of 500 Hz) can cause vibroacoustic disease (VAD).
Research into VAD has been ongoing since 1980, conducted by a multidisciplinary team of scientists and led by pathologist Nuno Castelo Branco, MD.
In March 2007, and for the first time, the Portuguese National Center for Occupational Diseases attributed 100% professional disability to a 40-year-old flight attendant who had been diagnosed with VAD since 2001. Two other VAD patients have also been attributed a similar disability status.
Initially, only ILFN-rich occupational environments were investigated. However, over the past several years, many individuals and their families have approached our team because of the ILFN contaminant in their homes. The sources of residential ILFN vary from industrial complexes, to large volume highways, to public transportation systems, etc.
In a case study published in Proceedings of Internoise 2004 (a annual scientific meeting dedicated to all aspects of acoustics), one of the first documented cases of environmental VAD was reported in a family of four, exposed to the ILFN produced by a port grain terminal.
Over the past three years, several families have contacted this team complaining of noise caused by the proximity of industrial wind turbines (windmills). However, only within this past month has this team obtained detailed acoustical measurements within a home surrounded by 4, recently installed industrial windmills.
This acoustical data was essential in order to compare in-home, windmill-produced acoustical environments with the residential, ILFN-rich environments that are known to be conducive to VAD.
The levels of ILFN inside the windmill-surrounded home are larger than those obtained in the home contaminated by the port grain terminal.
The scientific report will be formally presented at Internoise 2007, to be held on 28-31 August in Istanbul, Turkey.
These results irrefutably demonstrate that windmills in the proximity of residential areas produce acoustical environments that can lead to the development of VAD in the nearby home-dwellers.
In order to protect Public Health, ILFN-producing devices must not be placed in locations that will contaminate residential areas with this agent of disease.
Mariana Alves-Pereira, PhD
School of Health Sciences (ERISA), Lusofona University Portugal Department of Environmental Sciences & Engineering, New University of Lisbon Portugal
Nuno Castelo Branco, MD
Surgical Pathologist President, Scientific Board Center for Human Performance (CPH)
The Center for Human Performance is a civilian, non-profit organization dedicated to research in vibro-acoustic disease. CPH was founded in 1992 has been the organization which coordinates all the different teams that work on vibro-acoustic disease research, and that include (in Portugal) the cardiology and pulmonary departments of the Cascais Hospital, the neurophysiology department of the National Institute of Cancer, the department of human genetics of the National Institute of Public Health, the department of speech pathology of the School of Health Sciences of the Polytechnical Institute of Setúbal, among several others over the past 25 years.
Contact: Professor Alves-Pereira, firstname.lastname@example.org
All photos in this post were taken by wind farm resident, Gerry Meyer. Fond du Lac County, WI, Winter 2008
Vibro-acoustic Disease in the News:
Turbine noise dissected; Expert says low frequencies are produced
February 27, 2009 by Nancy Madsen in Watertown Daily Times
LAFARGEVILLE - At its meeting Tuesday night, the Orleans wind committee got confirmation from an expert that turbines produce low-frequency noise and could cause health problems.
The committee held a conference call with Richard R. James, principal consultant at E-Coustic Solutions, Okemos, Mich. Mr. James has more than 35 years' experience and worked on revising the International Electrotechnical Commission's standard for measuring turbine sound levels. He worked with George W. Kamperman, consulting engineer in acoustics at Kamperman Associates Inc., Wisconsin Dells, Wis., on creating a guide to siting wind turbines for local governments.
Mr. James said low-frequency sound and infrasound, the lowest-frequency sound, are felt, not heard.
"Typically, they are not even measured," he said. "They are not very common in nature, but a few examples are distant thunder and tornadoes."
In creating guidelines for siting, Mr. James reviewed noise standards and studies from around the world. Many noise regulations for wind turbines are based on measurements that weigh audible noise, or dBA.
"But there are still hundreds of complaints of low-frequency noise annoyance in those communities," Mr. James said. "We decided we needed to include a low-frequency noise measure in the standard."
In their siting guide, Mr. James and Mr. Kamperman said audible sound from turbines should not exceed 5 decibels above pre-construction ambient noise levels. Low-frequency noise should not exceed 5 decibels above the pre-construction measurement. Those limits, they said, should be met at nonparticipating landowners' property lines.
"It's a standard for communities that could be enforced with instruments that most acoustic engineers have access to," he said.
He said walls and windows block audible noise well but do not block low-frequency sound.
Mr. James also said low-frequency noise causes health problems.
"We've known since the 1950s that sound outside the home can cause sleep disturbance," he said. "We also know noise, sleep and health are related."
He said that sleep disturbance, vibro-acoustic disease and wind turbine syndrome have been connected with low-frequency noise.
"It's clear that the majority of sound energy from a turbine is in the low-frequency range, but none of the information from a wind developer ever describes that fact," Mr. James said. "None of the data for the lower frequencies is collected or figured as part of their tests."
Mr. James said communities should have their ambient-noise levels tested by qualified engineers before a wind farm is developed.
The committee next will meet at 7 p.m. March 10 at the town office, when Keith D. Pitman, president and chief executive officer of Empire State Wind Energy, will present information on wind development and Charles E. Ebbing, facilitator and retired acoustic engineer with Carrier Corp., will talk about low-frequency noise and annoyance.