Wednesday, June 02, 2010


Adverse Health Effects & Industrial Wind Turbines

Carmen Krogh

A Snapshot

· From Health Canada: ‘…there are peer reviewed scientific articles indicating that wind turbines may have an adverse impact on human health.’[1]

· Not every one gets sick. However, from a population stand point, those at risk include: healthy people; people with pre-existing health problems.[2]

· Adverse health effects can occur almost immediately or over time (1, 2, 4 months or more).[3],[4]

· Those with the following pre-existing medical conditions could be affected: migraine syndrome and inner ear problems where the balance can be affected by moving blades, the shadow flicker, noise / vibration leading to dizziness / tinnitus (ringing in the ears).[5]

· Based on health studies to date, the causes seem to be related to: noise that you can hear (dBA / intermittent swooshing) which disrupts sleep and which the human ear does not tolerate well. Noise that you can’t hear (low frequency / infrasound). Shadow flicker which can distribute fairly far. Electrical pollution (stray voltage) and substation noise (low frequency noise.). See appendix and references below.

· Sleep deprivation is not trivial and can lead to serious medical conditions.

‘… I have no doubt that wind turbine noise emissions cause sleep disturbance and ill health.’ [6]

Noise: dBA, low frequency and infrasound

· Noise levels can lead to sleep disturbance and adverse health symptoms.

‘Wind energy will undoubtedly create noise, which increases stress, which in turn increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.’ [7]

‘…may actually be more disturbed by the noise inside their homes than they would be outside.’[8]

‘This mode of observation is particularly significant at low frequencies, below the threshold of normal hearing.’[9]

‘…the military has been aware of the way a combination of persistent low-frequency noise, infrasound and visual strobing can destabilise the human body.’[10]

Low frequency and infrasound disrupts inner ear; that what you can’t hear can harm you.[11]

Noise guidelines have been adjusted: an increase of 10 dBA is perceived by the human ear as doubling.[12]

53 dBA June 04 (160% louder than 40 dBA)

51 dBA October 08[13]

40 dBA June 09[14]

?? September 24, 2009, seems to have reverted to Guidelines of October 2008. Clarification requested but not yet received.[15]

‘40 dB … necessary to protect the public, including most of the vulnerable groups such as children, the chronically ill and the elderly, from the adverse health effects of night noise.’[16]

‘…noise regulations can have a significant impact on wind turbine spacing, and therefore the cost of wind generated electricity…’ [17]

A 1 dB reduction of noise will reduce power generated 0.3% to 3%. [18]

Wind energy formula based on (dB(A) ~ kWh ~ $$$)[19]

You may not hear noise directly under the turbine, yet it will be heard a distance away[20]

Sleep disturbance adverse health effects / symptoms [21]

· Behavioural (affects performance, fatigue, memory, concentration problems

· Psychiatric (leads to depression, anxiety conditions}

· Medical conditions (cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal disorders, weight gain/loss

· Mortality (increased risk reported)

Low frequency noise adverse health effects / symptoms [22]

· Chronic fatigue

· Heart ailments anxiety, stitch, beating palpitation

· Chronic insomnia

· Repeated headaches

· Repeated ear pulsation, pains in neck, backache

· Frequent ear vibration, eye ball and other

· Shortness of breath, shallow breathing, chest trembling

· Frequent irritation, nervousness, anxiety

· Frustration, depression, indecision

Infrasound adverse health effects / symptoms [23]

· Sleep disorder

· Headache

· Vertigo

· Nystagmus (eye movement associated with vertigo)

· Nausea

· Mental changes

Health effects and low frequency noise from consultant from wind energy proponent

· ‘…it is acknowledged that this may be one area of scientific uncertainty in the wind energy industry as a whole’[24]

Health effects infrasound from consultant from wind energy proponent

· ‘…it is recognized that this may be an area of scientific uncertainty’ [25]

Setbacks for health: 3rd party, unbiased health studies including that of epidemiology to determine setbacks and noise limits including dBA and low frequency / infrasound are required.

Medical & other researchers suggest: Note: Terrain and siting dependant – not 1 size fits all. Dr. Pierpont suggests there may be a need more than these in mountainous terrain

2 - 3.5 km - Phipps - New Zealand (2008) *

2 - 3.2 km - Dr. Pierpont - USA (2008) *

> 2 km - Kamperman - USA (2008)

>2 km - Frey & Hadden - UK (2007)

2.0 km - Scottish Executive - UK (2007)

2.0 km - Bowdler – UK (2007)

1.6 km - Dr. Harry - UK (2007)

1.5 km - Acoustic Ecology Institute – USA (2009)

1.5 km - Medical Academy of France - EU(2006)

1.5 km - The Noise Association -UK (2006)

>1.5 km - Bennett – New Zealand (2008)

>1.5 km - Dr. Hanning – UK (2009)

· Noise is more pronounced in hilly terrain.[26],[27],[28],[29],[30],[31]

· Shadow flicker more pronounced in hilly terrain. [32]

November 23, 2009

Copyright 2009-2010 Carmen Krogh

[1] August 6, Letter : 2009 Safe Environs Program, Health Canada Environmental Assessment Nova Scotia

[2] Wind Turbine Syndrome, A Natural Experiment, Dr. Nina Pierpont

[3] ibid

[4] Wind Vigilance for Ontario Communities (WindVOiCe), September 12, 2009

[5] Wind Turbine Syndrome, A Natural Experiment, Dr. Nina Pierpont

[6] Dr. Christopher Hanning ‘Sleep Disturbance and Wind Turbine Noise’ June 2009

[7] The National Institutes of Health, Environmental Health Perspectives, volume 116, pg A237 – 238, 2008 (USA)

[8] NASA technical paper Wind Turbine Acoustics

[9] ibid

[10] Location, Location, Location An investigation into wind farms and noise, UK Noise Association 2006

[11] Tuning and sensitivity of the human vestibular system to low-frequency vibration, Neil P. McAngus Todd et al, Neuroscience Letter 444 (2008) 36-41

[12] Wind Turbine Acoustic Noise, Anthony L. Rogers, Ph.D. 2006

[13] Guidelines, October 2008

[14] Proposed Green Energy Act Regulations

[15] Green Energy Act Regulations of September 24, 2009

[16] Night Noise Guidelines for Europe, World Health Organization (2009)

[17] CanWEA letter to MOE June 15 2004

[18] ‘Noise Optimization of a Siemens Multi-MegaWatt Turbine’ Søren Hjort, Siemens Wind Power A/S

[19] Wind Turbine Aeroacoustic Issues, Paul G. Migliore National Renewable Energy Laboratory US Department of Energy 2002

[20] NASA technical paper Wind Turbine Acoustics

[21] Night Noise Guidelines for Europe, World Health Organization (2009)

[22] Mirowska and Mroz

[23] A Review of Published Research on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects, Leventhall, 2003

[24] Jacques Whitford Stantec Ltd (Stantec), Byran Wind Project ERR, August 25, 2009

[25] ibid

[26] Minnesota Department of Health (USA)

[27] National Research Council (USA)

[28] Dr Robyn Phipps, Dr Marco Amati, Dr Sue McCoard, Dr Richard Fisher (New Zealand)

[29] Fritz van den Berg (Netherlands)

[30] UK Noise Association (UK

[31] Dr Eja Pedersen / Dr Kerstin Persson Waye (Sweden)

[32] Evaluation of Environmental Shadow Flicker Analysis for “Dutch Hill Wind Power Project”

R.H. Bolton January 30, 2007

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