- The support of the Open Letter to the WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region from high ranking medical professionals grows – as evidenced by this important notification from the North American Platform Against Wind (NA-PAW):
Beth-Bowen-signs-open-letter-who CO-REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UN IN NEW YORK FOR THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF DOCTORS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, REQUESTS THAT THE WHO (World Health Organisation) URGENTLY CONSIDER THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE OPEN LETTER REGARDING EUROPEAN INDUSTRIAL WIND (and other) NOISE GUIDELINE REVISIONS
The endorsement of the OPEN LETTER by Dr. Bowen is deeply significant. Given Dr. Bowen’s credentials, authenticity and humanity, her governing principles of environmental and justice for all, the endorsement of theOPEN LETTER shows again the importance the WHO must now place on the application of higher standards for noise (including vibration and ILFN) for
industrial wind. The suffering and harm is no longer questioned: it is a matter of density and complexity of harm, and effects that persons in homes, schools, or institutions, cannot easily escape. Effects are noted incompletely similar fashion world wide.
2. This very important document has just been accepted by the WHO guideline development group:
Not much more can or needs to be added to this gigantic piece of work. from Rick James and Jerry Punch. Start with the conclusions around pp. 52 – 53:
We have discussed in this paper various elements of acoustics, sound perception, sound measurement, and psychological reactions, and the role these factors play in support of the view that a general-causative link exists between human health and ILFN emitted by IWTs. The available evidence warrants the following conclusions: (1) Large wind turbines generate infrasound, which is not normally experienced as sound by most human listeners. Some people, however, experience it in the form of pathological Punch & James, Wind turbine noise and human health Page 53 symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, or motion sickness, which appear to be caused by the excitation of resonances inside closed structures and the human body itself. (2) WTN has unique acoustic characteristics when compared to other environmental noises. These characteristics include low-amplitude, amplitude-modulated, intermittent occurrences of tones that mirror the peak energy of the blade-pass frequency and the first several harmonics. The coupling mechanisms in the inner ear prevent internally generated sound, but not externally generated sound, from being perceived, which means that perception of wind turbine infrasound is far more disturbing than infrasound generated within the human body. (3) There is voluminous evidence, ranging from anecdotal accounts from around the world to peer-reviewed scientific research, that audible and inaudible low-frequency noise and infrasound from IWTs lead to complaints ranging from annoyance to AHEs in a substantial percentage of the population. Although sleep disturbance is the most common problem cited, a variety of other health problems has been reported by numerous reputable sources. Recent research is largely consistent with Pierpont’s original description of Wind Turbine Syndrome. Research on humans and lower animals has shown that it is biologically plausible that inner ear mechanisms, in conjunction with the brain, can process acoustic energy in ways that result in pathological perceptions that are not interpreted as sound. Both balance and hearing mechanisms appear to be involved in evoking these perceptions. The findings that infrasonic stimuli can amplitude modulate higher frequencies in the audible region, and that infrasound may be more perceptible when higher frequencies are absent, are especially compelling in suggesting that what we can’t hear can hurt us. (4) To prevent AHEs, scientists have recommended that distances separating turbines and residences be 0.5-2.5 mi., and 1.25 mi. (2 km) or more has been commonly recommended. Clearly, the short siting distances used by the industry for physical safety do not protect against AHEs. Alternatively, researchers have recommended sound levels typically ranging from 30-40 dBA for safeguarding health, which is consistent with the recommendation of nighttime noise levels by the WHO. (5) Annoyance is a health issue for many people living near IWTs, which is consistent with both the WHO’s definition of health and contemporary models of the relationships among annoyance, stress, and health. (6) The scientific evidence regarding factors other than amplitude-modulated ILFN as an explanation for most of the health complaints near IWTs, including electromagnetic fields (dirty electricity), is weak; the preponderance of research suggests that ILFN is the most viable explanation for such complaints. Punch & James, Wind turbine noise and human health Page 54 (7) The A-weighted decibel scale, which effectively excludes infrasound and substantial amounts of low-frequency noise, is inadequate to predict the level of outdoor or indoor infrasound, to reveal correlations to infrasound, or to show a definitive relationship with AHEs. Achievement of these goals requires the development of new measurement methods. (8) Even though Wind Turbine Syndrome is not currently included in the ICD coding system, that system includes most of the acknowledged symptoms of the syndrome. Medical professionals, therefore, have the necessary tools to evaluate and treat it, and that process has already begun on a limited scale. (9) While some epidemiologically solid research has been done in the area of IWTs and AHEs, evidence from other sources cannot be ignored. Hill noted the nature of such sources in 1965, and Phillips, in 2011, described the importance of other kinds of evidence, including adverse event reports, in establishing a causative relationship. One of the strongest types of evidence is the case-crossover experimental design, which the wind industry has unwittingly imposed for years on multiple families, many of whom have abandoned their homes to escape IWT noise exposure. (10) While psychological expectations and the power of suggestion conceivably can influence perceptions of the effects of WTN on health status, no scientifically valid studies have yet convincingly shown that psychological forces are the major driver of such perceptions. (11) Accurate estimates of the percentage of people who are affected by IWTs exist only for annoyance, not AHEs. Multiple reports, however, emphasize the relationships that exist between annoyance, stress, health, and quality of life, and indicate that a non-trivial percentage of people who live near IWTs experience AHEs. Those reports are consistent with thousands of reports worldwide. Although it seems reasonable to conclude that noise from IWTs does not cause AHEs in the majority of exposed populations, and that accurate estimates of AHEs are yet to be established, it is also clear that considerable numbers of people are affected and that they deserve to be heard and protected from adverse health impacts. (12) The available literature, which includes research reported by scientists and other reputable professionals in peer-reviewed journals, government documents, print and web-based media, and in scientific and professional papers presented at society meetings, is sufficient to establish a general causal link between a variety of commonly observed AHEs and noise emitted by IWTs. Based on all the evidence presented, our fundamental view is that the controversy surrounding AHEs should not be polarized into two groups consisting of either pro-wind or anti-wind Punch & James, Wind turbine noise and human health Page 55 factions, but rather one in which there is room for a third, pro-health, perspective. Essentially, the pro-wind view is that IWTs should be installed wherever feasible, that definitive scientific research is lacking to indicate that turbines cause AHEs, and that if you can’t hear it, you can’t feel it. The anti-wind view is that IWTs should not be installed anywhere because wind is not an economically viable source of renewable energy, that all government subsidies and development efforts should end, and that what we can’t hear can hurt us. A pro-health view is that there is enough anecdotal and scientific evidence to indicate that ILFN from IWTs causes annoyance, sleep disturbance, stress, and a variety of other AHEs to warrant siting the turbines at distances sufficient to avoid such harmful effects, which, without proper siting, occur in a substantial percentage of the population. That view holds that what we can’t hear can hurt some of us, and that the precautionary principle must be followed in siting IWTs if such health risks are to be avoided. Industrial-scale wind turbines should not be located near people’s homes, educational and recreational facilities, and workplaces.
It is our belief that the bulk of the available evidence justifies a pro-health perspective. It is unacceptable to consider people living near wind turbines as collateral damage while this debate continues. Further scientific investigations of the dose-response relationship between IWT noise and specific health effects in exposed individuals are sorely needed. However, people should be protected by conservative siting guidelines that recognize the concerns raised in this review. Hopefully, such research can and will be planned and executed by independent researchers with the full cooperation of the wind industry. The major objective of such research should be to reveal directions for the industry in balancing the energy needs of society with the need to protect public health.
Statement of conflict of interest: The authors declare no conflicts of interest. Mr. James is on the Board of Directors for the Society for Wind Vigilance, an international federation of physicians, acousticians, engineers, and other professionals who share scientific research on the topic of health and wind turbines. ”