Entries in wind turbine noise (103)
From Nova Scotia
INCREASING TURBINE NUMBERS COULD MEAN LARGER SETBACKS
By Cheryl LaRocque
Source: Amherst Daily News
July 19, 2012
AMHERST – For industrial wind turbines, low frequency sound emissions range: one person may not hear a noise a second person hears clearly, while a third person finds the noise loud and uncomfortable.
To date, some residents of Amherst and out of town visitors said: “I don’t hear them; the turbines don’t bother me; the turbines hum and/or drone and keep me awake at night; they gave me an ongoing migraine; they give me daily headaches; the turbines are noisy and I/we can’t sleep at night.”
Researchers explain individual hearing sensitivity varies greatly. If you are wondering why, the explanation may be tucked in the inner ear in a cluster of tiny, interconnected organs.
In an article published in the Bulletin of Science Technology & Society, 2011, Wind Turbines could Affect Humans, by Alec Salt and James A. Kaltenbach explained, 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 in a failure to consider 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,” wrote Salt and Kaltenbach. “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.”
There is overwhelming evidence large electricity-generating turbines cause serious health problems in a nontrivial fraction of residents living near them, explained Carl V. Phillips, MPP, PhD in his article Properly Interpreting the Epidemiologic Evidence About the Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines on Nearby Residents. The article was published in the Bulletin of Science Technology & Society (2011).
“These turbines produce noise in the audible and non-audible ranges, as well as optical flickering, and many people living near them have reported a collection of health effects that appear to be manifestations of a chronic stress reaction or something similar,” explained Phillips, a consultant and author specializing in epidemiology, science-based policy making and communicating scientific concepts to the public.
Dr. Robert McMurtry, former dean of medicine at the University of Western in London, Ont., published a case definition to facilitate a clinical diagnosis regarding adverse health effects and industrial wind turbines.
There is a move toward a safe setback of turbines of two kilometres from homes, explained Dr. John Harrison, physicist from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., in an email interview.
“In the absence of any independent studies of adverse health effects, a precautionary principle suggests all provinces and territories in Canada should adopt a two-km setback.”
Harrison’s expertise is in the properties of matter at low temperatures with emphasis on high frequency sound waves. For the past five years he has studied wind turbine noise and its regulation.
As the province of Nova Scotia continues to pursue and approve wind energy developments, it is important it take into account the larger the turbine and the increase in numbers of turbines would also mean an increase in setback distance, explained Richard R. James in a phone interview from his office in Okemos, Mich.
James is adjunct professor at Michigan State University and Central Michigan University with the department of communication disorders.
Richard R. James, INCE (Institute of Noise Control Engineering) is a certified noise control engineer and has been actively involved in the field of noise control since 1969, participating in and supervising research and engineering projects related to measurement and control of occupational and community noise for major US and Canadian Manufacturers. Since 2006, he has been involved with noise and health issues related to industrial wind turbines.
Other countries including Australia, Denmark, France, New Zealand and Germany have instituted strict regulatory requirements regarding industrial wind turbine setback or are in the process of tightening criteria that experience has shown are not protective. The Danish EPA (their regulatory body) recently instituted stricter regulations that require the turbine’s emission of low frequency sound be addressed.
3/13/12 Too close to home: Not old enough to vote or sign a petition but old enough and close enough to be tormented by wind turbines AND How green is a bird and bat killing machine? Wind industry claims ring false as slaughter exposed
TURBINES CAUSED HEALTH PROBLEMS
March 12 2012
by Alyssa Ashley
Since I am not old enough to vote or sign a petition, I would like a chance to voice the truth. On May 8, 2011, I left my home in Glenmore, Wis., due to many health problems that are a result from the Shirley Wind Project built at the end of 2010.
Inside my home, I was able to detect when the turbines were turning on and off by the sensations in my ears. I could not hear or see the turbines at the time; I could feel them. In early 2011, I had been noticing extreme headaches, ear pain and sleep deprivation, all three things that were either a rarity for me, or nonexistent. This caused me to struggle with my school work. I could not concentrate due to pressure releasing from my head, or to the fact that I had very little sleep.
After staying away from my home for a week-and-a-half, my symptoms started to subside. I could sleep again, and my headaches were lessening. The longer I was away, the better I felt. Due to our turbine-related health issues, I spent all summer living in a camper with my family, away from the turbines.
At the end of August, my family reluctantly purchased another small house away from the wind turbines, leaving us paying two mortgages. I have not been in the Shirley area since Nov. 19, 2011, and I do not experience headaches anymore and I can sleep soundly.
My ears, however, are still sensitive to the cold and loud noises. This has never been a problem for me in my entire life, and I wonder if this damage to my ears will ever go away.
When contemplating wind turbine siting, think of me.
BIRD CONSERVANCY SEEKS ENFORCEABLE WIND TURBINE STANDARDS
Bonner R. Cohen
SOURCE Heartlander, news.heartland.org
March 13, 2012
The American Bird Conservancy has filed a 100-page petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) requesting replacement of FWS’s proposed voluntary guidelines for operating wind farms with mandatory, enforceable standards designed to protect birds and bats from turbines’ deadly blades.
If FWS accepts the arguments laid out in the Bird Conservancy’s petition, wind farms will be subject to a mandatory permitting system and required to mitigate harm to birds and bats.
Massive Bird Kills
Although wind power supplies only 2 percent of electricity in the United States, FWS reports the wind turbines supplying that power kill 440,000 birds each year. Other analysts maintain the number is much larger because FWS may be overlooking a substantial number of birds that receive mortal wounds from turbine strikes but don’t die in the immediate vicinity of the machines, where FWS counts bird carcasses.
Two well-documented incidents in the mountains of West Virginia shed light on the magnitude of the problem. On a single night in September 2011, a single wind farm atop Mount Storm killed 59 birds. One month later, 484 birds were killed in a single night at the newly constructed wind farm on Laurel Mountain.
In these and other incidents across the country, birds of every description—hawks, bald eagles, golden eagles, the endangered California condor, yellow-billed cuckoos, wood thrushes, and other migratory birds—have lost their lives to wind farms.
Wind Farms Given Free Pass
Migratory birds may pose the biggest threat to the wind energy industry. To date, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act has not been applied to wind firms, but the potential liability could pose a real problem to the industry. The law does not require intent, meaning incidental kills could be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
The legal uncertainty over the potential liability of wind farms might make an FWS permitting process the lesser of two evils for the wind industry. Fearful a permitting process would lead to costly bureaucratic delays, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has expressed a clear preference for FWS’s proposed voluntary guidelines. But a change of heart by the Justice Department leading to prosecution of owners of wind farms for incidental kills of migratory birds would cast a pall over the whole industry.
The industry has never been told it would not be prosecuted. Similarly, if endangered birds or bats are killed in sufficient numbers by wind farms so as to trigger lawsuits under the Endangered Species Act, the industry could be facing even greater uncertainty and costly litigation.
Congress Reconsidering Subsidies
Meanwhile, the wind industry, which has seen its political connections pay off in recent years, is facing a serious threat from another direction: Congress is losing its appetite for subsidizing renewable energy. The spectacular bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra, with a loss of over $500 million suffered by U.S. taxpayers, has made Capitol Hill lawmakers wary of loan guarantees and other subsidies designed to prop up renewable energy ventures.
For years, the wind energy industry has benefited from, and indeed depended on, one such subsidy, known as the production tax credit (PTC). The PTC provides a 2.2 cents-per-kilowatt-hour subsidy for wind power generators for their first ten years of existence. In effect since 1992, the PTC could well expire at the end of this year. In working out a deal earlier this year on the extension of the payroll tax deduction, the House and Senate, despite heavy lobbying by AWEA, refused to include an extension of the PTC.
Without the PTC, the industry will be hobbled in its efforts to compete with cheaper coal and natural gas. With the growing likelihood of an expiration of the PTC at the end of the year, orders for new turbines have come to a screeching halt.
Wind Power’s Environmental Downside
“It’s about time that we look at the downside of alternative energies,” said Marita Noon, executive director of the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy.
“Since the theory of manmade climate change became fashionable, we’ve heard only that fossil fuels are bad and renewable energy is good,” said Noon. “The propaganda shows pictures of black smoke belching out of stacks contrasted with pristine, white, wind turbines. Neither reflects reality. The black smoke was cleaned up years ago. Wind turbines kill birds and bats.
“As Americans make energy decisions, they need to be based on reality, on complete science,” Noon explained. “There is no free lunch, and energy policy should fully weigh the pros and cons of each option.”
3/12/12 Turbine spokes person on theoretical turbine noise AND the reality of turbine noise in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin
Above, PR man for VESTAS speaking about theoretical turbine noise.
Below, the reality of turbine noise: Recorded by a Wisconsin resident in Fond Du Lac County.
3/11/12 In the face of overwhelming evidence of trouble, what will the Wind Industry do? Deny, deny, deny
SURVEY FINDS HIGH RATE OF WIND TURBINE SYNDROME FROM NEWER TURBINE MODELS
By Miriam Raftery,
SOURCE: East County Magazine, eastcountymagazine.org
March 10, 2012
With two new wind farms proposed for our region and another already in operation, evaluating potential health impacts is important.
A survey was conducted on wind farm noise as part of a Master’s dissertation by Zhenhua Wang, a graduate student in Geography, Environment and Population at the University of Adelaide, Australia. The results show that 70% of respondents living up to 5 kilometers away report being negatively affected by wind turbine noise, with more than 50% of them “very or moderately negatively affected”. This is considerably higher than what was found in previous studies conducted in Europe.
The survey was made in the vicinity of the Waterloo wind farm, South Australia, which is composed of 37 Vestas V90 3 MW turbines stretching over 18 km (1). These mega turbines are reported to be emitting more low frequency noise (LFN) than smaller models, and this causes more people to be affected, and over greater distances, by the usual symptoms of the Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS): insomnia, headaches, nausea, stress, poor ability to concentrate, irritability, etc, leading to poorer health and a reduced immunity to illness.
The wind industry has consistently downplayed concerns over health issues, disputing findings such as those made by Dr. Nina Pierpont in her book and peer-reviewed report, Wind Turbine Syndrome. Dr. Pierpont received her medical degree from John Hopkins University and holds a PhD from Princeton University.
However some jurisdictions are enacting regulations to protect residents as evidence mounts to suggest negative health impacts are a dark side of going green through wind energy.
The Danish government recognized recently that LFN is an aggravating component in the noise that affects wind farm neighbors. This prompted their issuing regulations that limit low-frequency noise levels inside homes to 20 dB(A). Unfortunately, as denounced by Professor Henrik Moller, they manipulated the calculation parameters so as to allow LFN inside homes to actually reach 30 dB(A) in 30% of cases. “Hardly anyone would accept 30 dB(A) in their homes at night”, wrote the Professor last month (2).
A summary of the Australian survey has been published (3), but the full Masters dissertation has not been made available to the public. In the interest of public health, the European Platform against Windfarms (EPAW) and the North-American Platform against Windpower (NA-PAW), have asked the University of Adelaide to release this important document.
A neighbor of the Waterloo wind farm, Mr Andreas Marciniak, wrote to a local newspaper last week: “Do you think it’s funny that at my age I had to move to Adelaide into my Mother’s shed and my brother had to move to Hamilton into a caravan with no water or electricity?” Both Mr Marciniak and his brother have been advised by their treating doctors, including a cardiologist, to leave their homes and not return when the wind turbines are turning.
How many people will be forced to abandon their homes before governments pay attention, wonder the thousands of wind farm victims represented by EPAW and NAPAW. “It’ll take time to gather enough money for a big lawsuit”, says Sherri Lange, of NAPAW. “But time is on our side: victim numbers are increasing steadily.”
(1) – http://ecogeneration.com.au/news/waterloo_wind_farm_officially_opened/054715/
(2) – http://www.epaw.org/press/EPAW_NA-PAW_media_release_10Feb2012.pdf
(3) – http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/evaluation-of-wind-farm-noise-policies-in-south-australia/
Note: The British Medical Journal is an international peer reviewed journal of medicine.
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.1 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.1 Shortly after wind turbines began to be erected close to housing, complaints emerged of adverse effects on health. Sleep disturbance was the main complaint.2 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.3
The noise emitted by a typical onshore 2.5 MW wind turbine has two main components. A dynamo mounted on an 80 m tower is driven through a gear train by blades as long as 45 m, and this generates both gear train noise and aerodynamic noise as the blades pass through the air, causing vortices to be shed from the edges. Wind constantly changes its velocity and direction, which means that the inflowing airstream is rarely stable. In addition, wind velocity increases with height (wind shear), especially at night, and there may be inflow turbulence from nearby structures—in particular, other turbines. This results in an impulsive noise, which is variously described as “swishing” and “thumping,” and which is much more annoying than other sources of environmental noise and is poorly masked by ambient noise.4 5
Permitted external noise levels and setback distances vary between countries. UK guidance, ETSU-R-97, published in 1997 and not reviewed since, permits a night time noise level of 42 dBA, or 5 dBA above ambient noise level, whichever is the greater. This means that turbines must be set back by a minimum distance of 350-500 m, depending on the terrain and the turbines, from human habitation.
The aerodynamic noise generated by wind turbines has a large low frequency and infrasound component that is attenuated less with distance than higher frequency noise. Current noise measurement techniques and metrics tend to obscure the contribution of impulsive low frequency noise and infrasound.6 A laboratory study has shown that low frequency noise is considerably more annoying than higher frequency noise and is harmful to health—it can cause nausea, headaches, disturbed sleep, and cognitive and psychological impairment.7 A cochlear mechanism has been proposed that outlines how infrasound, previously disregarded because it is below the auditory threshold, could affect humans and contribute to adverse effects.8
Sixteen per cent of surveyed respondents who lived where calculated outdoor turbine noise exposures exceeded 35 dB LAeq (LAeq, the constant sound level that, in a given time period, would convey the same sound energy as the actual time varying sound level, weighted to approximate the response of the human ear) reported disturbed sleep.4 A questionnaire survey concluded that turbine noise was more annoying at night, and that interrupted sleep and difficulty in returning to sleep increased with calculated noise level.9 Even at the lowest noise levels, 20% of respondents reported disturbed sleep at least one night a month. In a meta-analysis of three European datasets (n=1764),10 sleep disturbance clearly increased with higher calculated noise levels in two of the three studies.
In a survey of people residing in the vicinity of two US wind farms, those living within 375-1400 m reported worse sleep and more daytime sleepiness, in addition to having lower summary scores on the mental component of the short form 36 health survey than those who lived 3-6.6 km from a turbine. Modelled dose-response curves of both sleep and health scores against distance from nearest turbine were significantly related after controlling for sex, age, and household clustering, with a sharp increase in effects between 1 km and 2 km.11 A New Zealand survey showed lower health related quality of life, especially sleep disturbance, in people who lived less than 2 km from turbines.12
A large body of evidence now exists to suggest that wind turbines disturb sleep and impair health at distances and external noise levels that are permitted in most jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom. Sleep disturbance may be a particular problem in children,1 and it may have important implications for public health. When seeking to generate renewable energy through wind, governments must ensure that the public will not suffer harm from additional ambient noise. Robust independent research into the health effects of existing wind farms is long overdue, as is an independent review of existing evidence and guidance on acceptable noise levels.
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1527
Competing interests: Both authors have completed the ICMJE uniform disclosure form at www.icmje.org/coi_disclosure.pdf (available on request from the corresponding author) and declare: no support from any organisation for the submitted work; no financial relationships with any organisations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; CDH has given expert evidence on the effects of wind turbine noise on sleep and health at wind farm planning inquiries in the UK and Canada but has derived no personal benefit; he is a member of the board of the Society for Wind Vigilance; AE has written letters of objection on health grounds to wind farm planning applications in Ireland.
Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Christopher D Hanning, honorary consultant in sleep medicine 1,
Alun Evans, professor emeritus 2
1 Sleep Disorders Service, University Hospitals of Leicester, Leicester General Hospital, Leicester LE5 4PW, UK
2 Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University of Belfast, Institute of Clinical Science B, Belfast, UK