Noise & Health Studies & Resources

Bald Hills Wind Farm ordered to stop emitting night-time noise, pay neighbours damages in landmark ruling
ABC News, Emma Field
The Victorian Supreme Court in Australia today found the noise from the Bald Hills Wind Farm created a nuisance to its neighbors ordering damages and an injunction. The injunction will require the wind farm to “take necessary measures to abate” emitting loud noise at night. John Zakula and Noel Uren took civil action against the wind farm last year, telling the court that “roaring” intermittent noise from the wind turbines caused health problems and loss of sleep.

A Cardiologist’s Investigation and Response to Industrial Wind Turbines in the Rural Residential Countryside Regarding Concerns of Adverse Health Effects
W. Ben Johnson, M.D
It is well known that wind farm noise does result in sleep disturbance and health effects for some people and the time has come to decide what to do about it. The fact remains that some people are so affected by wind farm noise that their health suffers and some are forced to leave their home in order to achieve an acceptable quality of life. We need to respect each other and look for energy solutions that make sense and most residents agree about.

Wind Turbine Noise Associated With Worse Self-Reported Sleep
Reuters Health, Lisa Rapaport
The study included 24 participants who lived close to wind turbines, and a reference group of 26 individuals who didn’t live near wind turbines, who spent three consecutive nights in a sleep laboratory. The first night was for habituation, then participants were randomized to a quiet control and an intervention night with exposure to simulated wind turbine noise.
REM sleep latency was 16.8 minutes longer and REM sleep was 11.1 minutes shorter on nights participants were exposed to wind turbine noise, the study found. Other measures of objective sleep did not differ significantly between nights, including key indicators of sleep disturbance.
Results were similar for people with and without prior exposure to wind turbine noise.
“The findings indicate that continuous environmental noise with amplitude modulations may have some impact on sleep,” said senior study author Kerstin Persson Waye of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Wisconsin town fighting giant wind farm thinks developer has abandoned project
Cision PR Newswire, Town of Forest
The town’s position is based on a ruling from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission that the project must comply with state noise standards 100 percent of the time it operates. This change came following a lawsuit from the town challenging the PSC’s initial order that had arbitrarily set a 95 percent noise compliance standard.

The End of Silence, Why Everything is Getting Louder
The Atlantic, Bianca Bosker
Experts say your body does not adapt to noise. Large-scale studies show that if the din keeps up—over days, months, years—noise exposure increases your risk of high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and heart attacks, as well as strokes, diabetes, dementia, and depression. The nature of noise is shifting. Our soundscape has been overpowered by the steady roar of machines: a chorus of cars, planes, trains, pumps, drills, stereos, and turbines; of jackhammers, power saws, chain saws, cellphones, and car alarms, plus generators, ventilators, compressors, street sweepers, helicopters, mowers, and data centers, which are spreading in lockstep with our online obsession and racking up noise complaints along the way.

Chautauqua County Board of Health considers turbine regulation
At its most recent meeting, Health Board members discussed three potential actions. The first is a moratorium on construction of industrial wind turbines until there have been further studies on the topic that would provide local officials with more guidance. The second potential action is sending a letter to the county’s towns stating the Board of Health’s concerns with industrial wind towers and asking towns to consider implementing town laws governing wind towers. The third potential action is to regulate industrial wind turbines through the county’s sanitary code, which would entail writing a local regulation and then receiving approval for the new language from the state Health Department.

At forum, concerns raised about health impacts from large turbines
Orleans Hub, Tom Rivers, Editor
Experts say low-frequency infrasound has debilitating effects on about 10% of population who live near turbines. State Sen. Robert Ortt sponsored a presentation at Erie County Community College. He is joined by panelists Rob Rand, member of INCE (Institute of Noise Control Engineers); Jerry Punch, Ph.D., audiologist; Gary Abraham, an environmental attorney; and Dan Stapleton, Niagara County Commissioner of Health and individuals who shared impacts they’ve experienced while living near industrial wind turbines.

Impact Studies Should Include Infrasound from Turbines
Orleans Hub, Tom Rivers, Editor
Orleans County Legislature Says Infrasound from Turbines Should be Included in Health Impact Studies

Can wind turbines disturb sleep? Research finds pulsing audible in homes up to 3.5km away
The Canberra Times (Australia), Nicole Hasham
“However the first results from ongoing Flinders University research into turbine noise and sleep found that low-frequency pulsing from a South Australian wind farm was audible about 16 per cent of the time inside homes up to 3.5 kilometres from a turbine, including 22 per cent of the time at night. The noise was audible 24 per cent of the time outside the homes. At night, audible pulsing occurred for as much as 22 per cent of the time, the data showed.
Recordings detected what complainants commonly describe as a pulsating, thumping or rumbling sound. The noise is technically known as amplitude modulation, and relates to a change in noise level that occurs approximately once per second as the turbine blade rotates.”

The Silent Menace (Part 1 of 2): Wind Turbine Infrasound – What You Can’t Hear Can Hurt You
News of the desert from Sierra Club California/Nevada Desert Committee, Dr. Donald Allen Deever
‘When speaking of the sounds generated by industrial wind turbines, the operative term is “noise,” and an important difference between sound and noise – including when infrasound noise is not heard by the ears – is that it can be felt by the brain and internal organs. Such an insight makes it all the worse to learn that infrasound noise can travel over much longer distances than previously admitted by the wind energy industry. Moreover, the intensity of potentially harmful levels of infrasound vibrations do not dissipate as quickly as formerly believed.’

Is Noise Pollution the Next Big Public-Health Crisis?
The New Yorker, David Owen
Excerpt from an article recently published in the New Yorker magazine about a variety of human noise and the need to curb it. Why do people question the validity of rural communities’ concern about the encroachment of 24-hour industrial wind turbine noise?

“She… opened an accordion folder that contained a dozen or so U.S.-government pamphlets, most of them from the seventies. One described noise impacts identical to the ones that researchers all over the world still study today, including hearing loss, cardiovascular disease, interrupted sleep, and delayed reading and language development. It concluded with a quotation from William H. Stewart, who served as the Surgeon General under both Lyndon B. Johnson and Nixon. In his keynote address at the 1968 Conference on Noise as a Public Health Hazard, in Washington, Stewart said, “Must we wait until we prove every link in the chain of causation?” and added, “In protecting health, absolute proof comes late. To wait for it is to invite disaster or to prolong suffering unnecessarily.”

That was half a century ago”

Presentation on adverse health effects from Wind Turbines by Dr. Ben Johnson, M.D. to the Madison County Board of Health 
Dr. Ben Johnson practices medicine in Iowa, where there is a huge concentration of IWTs. His analysis of the new WHO guidelines is exceptionally easy to comprehend. He also concludes that the data is compelling that exposure to IWT noise likely insidiously contributes to the bottom line of disease process progression still being recognized as a disease state. The data does indicate and support that WTN exposure and resultant adverse healh effects are very likely.

New WHO noise guidelines for Europe released
World Health Organization Press Release
“Noise pollution in our towns and cities is increasing, blighting the lives of many European citizens. More than a nuisance, excessive noise is a health risk – contributing to cardiovascular diseases, for example. We need to act on the many sources of noise pollution – from motorized vehicles to loud nightclubs and concerts – to protect our health,” says Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe. “The new WHO guidelines define exposure levels to noise that should not be exceeded to minimize adverse health effects and we urge European policy-makers to make good use of this guidance for the benefit of all Europeans.” What is new – Compared to previous WHO guidelines on noise, this version contains 5 significant developments including inclusion of new noise sources, namely wind turbine noise and leisure noise, in addition to noise from transportation (aircraft, rail and road traffic).

Testimony from Arkwright – site of recently built NY wind project:
The Arkwright Summit Wind Project became operational in September 2018. This project was approved by the Arkwright Town Board (not the NY State Article 10 application process). Residents, including those who did not initially oppose the project are complaining about noise, infrasound, shadow flicker and flashing lights. Their testimony is powerful incentive for citizens to stay involved in the local and State siting process.

Chautauqua County Legislature
Second privilege of the floor

Arkwright Town Board Meeting soon after EDP Arkwright Summit 37 industrial wind turbines are made operational.
Numerous residents speak

Industrial wind turbine noise could be “intolerable.”
SOS Press Release
Presentation by environmental attorney, Gary Abraham for SOS summer event July 2018.
Industrial wind turbine noise has been measured as far as 20 miles away. 45 decibels of wind turbine noise will be heard at least one mile from the project.

Comments by Mark Twichell, DDS, on the written testimony of Henry Spliethoff, M.S.,
Chief of the Prevention and Sustainability Section in the Division of Environmental Health Assessment, NYS Department of Health

Initial brief by Concerned Citizens of the Cassadaga Wind Project attorney Gary Abraham in response to evidentiary hearings
The Cassadaga Wind Project is the first industrial wind project in NYS to go through the Article 10 process.

NYS Department of Health Staff Initial Post-Hearing Brief
From Cassadaga Wind project

Infrasound, Low Frequency Noise and Industrial Wind Turbines Report
Complaints from citizens, including reports of adverse health impacts have persisted and increased as more turbines have been installed.The reported symptoms conform to those described internationally by many people living near wind turbines.With the proliferation of recent research and the rediscovery of earlier, until now largely ignored studies,infrasound and low frequency noise (LFN) can no longer be dismissed as irrelevant. This report shows why it must be given full consideration as a contributing cause of the distress of some of those people living near wind turbine installations.

Sleep Disturbance and Turbine Noise
Compilation of issues relating to sleep disturbance and wind turbines.

Health Impact Brochure
Health Impacts from Industrial Wind Turbines – handout we use at various community events that address noise, infrasound, shadow flicker, and ice throw/turbine failure/turbine fires.

Judgment in the case of the Town of Falmouth, MA vs. Falmouth Zoning Board of Appeals et al
Where the Town of Falmouth was ordered to shut down the operation of two wind turbines.

Wind Farm Being Sued by Families Admits Liability
County Cork, Ireland, first instance of wind project operator admitting liability (2/6/17) and subsequent settlement with victims (6/14/17).

Cork village families settle action against wind turbine operators

May 2017
Study – Environmental Noise Pollution: Has Public Health Become too Utilitarian
Alun Evans, Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK

Study – Altered cortical and subcortical connectivity due to infrasound administered near the hearing threshold
Evidence from fMRI, PLoS ONE, M. Weichenberger, M. Bauer, et al

March 2017
Includes quotes from residents within three industrial wind projects.

2016 articles

Study – Wind Turbine Noise and Human Health
A Four-Decade History of Evidence that Wind Turbines Pose Risks by Jerry Punch and Richard James

• Summary by SOS

Infrasound and Low-Frequency Noise
Twenty years of research working with those who are exposed to low frequency noise and vibrations had led this researcher to identify the impacts as vibroacousti disease (VAD).

Wind Turbine Noise and Human Health: A Four-Decade History of Evidence that Wind Turbines Pose Risks
The wind industry touts that there is no scientific evidence that wind turbines cause adverse health impacts. These two scientists systematically review 40 years of studies considering 12 different topics. Reviewed evidence overwhelmingly supports the link between industrial wind turbines and adverse health impacts.

Shirley Wind Case Crossover Testimonies (Michigan)
Shirley wind turbines were shut down for several days including all electrical power to those turbines also being shut off and then resumed operation. A number of residents wrote notarized statements of what they experienced both during the shutdown and after turbines were operating again.

Statistical Study: Wind Turbines and Health (France)
This paper establishes an objective method to evaluate the possible impact of industrial wind turbines on human health.

The Ultimate Insult
Open letter to WHO on health impacts of those living near wind turbines in Ontario, CA. Those feeling the impact want their comments to be considered as WHO sets recommendations for set-backs and noise levels.

July 2016
Open Letter to the Members of the Panel Developing the WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region

Dr. Elizabeth Bowen’s endorsement

2015 articles

63 peer reviewed articles regarding impairment of health in general and relating to industrial wind turbines
Industrial Wind Turbines and Health: Wind Turbines Can Harm Humans if too Close to Residents. Contrary to what the wind industry and our government would like the public to believe there are many up to date peer reviewed and published articles on adverse health effects related to industrial scale wind energy projects that are situated too close to our homes.

Audiology Today Article: Wind Turbine Noise, What Audiologists Should Know
… [article begins on pg 20] Evidence has been mounting over the past decade, however, that these utility-scale wind turbines produce significant levels of low-frequency noise and vibration that can be highly disturbing to nearby residents.

Explanation of terms and concepts related to wind turbine infrasound
Infrasound is acoustic energy, sound pressure, just like the low to high frequency sounds that we are accustomed to hearing.What makes infrasound different is that it is at the lowest end of the acoustical frequency spectrum even below the deep bass rumble of distant thunder or all but the largest pipe organ tones. As the frequency of an infrasonic tone moves to lower frequencies: 5Hz, 2Hz, 1Hz and lower, the sounds are more likely to be perceived as separate pressure pulsations instead of a rumble/thump or other form of audible sound.

Infrasound Measurements of Falmouth Wind Turbines Wind #1 and Wind #2
In 2010 the Town of Falmouth erected the first of two Vestas V82, 1.65 megawatt wind turbines, known as “Wind #1”‭ ‬and in 2012 the second turbine known as “Wind #2”‭ ‬was installed. Also in 2010, Notus Clean Energy erected the same Vestas V82 wind turbine known as the “Notus” wind turbine…Soon after the first wind turbine was operational, complaints were filed by the Andersens and other neighbors.

Doctors call for a reduction in turbine noise
Leading doctors have called on the Government to reduce the noise levels of wind turbines — which they claim are four times that recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. The Irish Doctors’ Environmental Association also said the set-back distance of 500m is not enough, that it should be increased to at least 1,500m [1.5km, almost 1mi].

Wind Turbines can be Hazardous to Human Health
You cannot hear the infrasound at the levels generated by wind turbines, but your ears certainly detect and respond to it. Causing Amplitude Modulation (pulsation) of heard sounds. Stimulating “subconscious” pathways. Causing Endolymphatic Hydrops. Possibly Potentiating Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. The degree to which each phenomenon occurs in humans following prolonged exposure to the infrasound from wind turbines has not yet been demonstrated. But each now needs to be studied in more detail.

Acoustic Engineering Investigation into Airborne and Ground-Borne Pressure Pulses from Pacific Hydro’s Wind Turbines at Cape Bridgewater
(A Simplified Explanation of the Findings, Previous Research, and the Consequences)
The first-of-a-kind study funded by a wind turbine company, this study was conducted to learn what caused the sleep disturbance and health damage of three households and provides interesting and realistic insights.

Groundbreaking new study shows the link between “wind turbine signature” and health effects.
Acoustics expert Steven Cooper demonstrates a link between infrasound components of the blade pass frequency and its harmonics and residents’ observed sensations.

2014 articles

Negative Health Effects of Noise from Industrial Wind Turbines
This post, the first of a three-part series, provides a broad overview of the topic. The second installment will review the major research findings linking low-frequency noise and infrasound from industrial wind turbines with effects on health and quality of life. Part three will discuss the relationship between various health effects and the processing of infrasound by the ear and brain.

Wind Turbines: A Different Breed of Noise?
But the problem with the property wasn’t the degraded view—at least not for the Hobarts. The problem was the noise. Shortly after the turbine switched on in 2010, Sue began experiencing headaches, dizziness, insomnia, and a ringing in her ears. When she noticed the symptoms briefly disappeared during trips out of town, she began attributing them to the arrival of the turbine. Within two years she was ready to leave.

Wisconsin Wind Turbines Declared Health Hazard
In what appears to be the first of its kind ruling in the United States, the Board of Health in Brown County, Wisconsin, where Green Bay is located, has declared a local industrial wind plant to be a human health hazard. The specific facility consists of eight 500-foot high, 2.5 megawatt industrial wind turbines.

Duke Energy’s Shirley wind turbines declared a “human health hazard”
To declare the Industrial Wind Turbines at Shirley Wind Project in the Town of Glenmore, Brown County, WI, a Human Health Hazard for all people (residents, workers, visitors, and sensitive passersby) who are exposed to Infrasound/Low Frequency Noise and other emissions potentially harmful to human health.

Winter 2014 Edition
How does wind turbine noise affect people?
Published in “Acoustics Today,” this report describes multiple ways in which infra-sound and low-frequency sound give rise to symptoms that some people living near wind turbines report. “Years of assertions by the wind industry that “what you can’t hear can’t affect you” or that symptoms are psychosomatic will be viewed in the future as a great injustice,” concludes the research team.

Wind Turbines “are a human health hazard.”

Wind Farms and Health
According to the World Health Organisation’s recent report, ‘Night Noise Guidelines for Europe’ [1], environmental noise is emerging as one of the major public health concerns of the twenty-first century. It observes that, “Many people have to adapt their lives to cope with the noise at night,” and the young and the old are particularly vulnerable.

2008-2013 articles

Adverse Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines, from The College of Family Physicians of Canada, May 2013 (pdf)

May 2013
Adverse health effects of industrial wind turbines
Canadian family physicians can expect to see increasing numbers of rural patients reporting adverse effects from exposure to industrial wind turbines (IWTs). People who live or work in close proximity to IWTs have experienced symptoms that include decreased quality of life, annoyance, stress, sleep disturbance, headache, anxiety, depression, and cognitive dysfunction.

Wine turbines ARE a human health hazard: the smoking gun
…the industry has known for at least 25 years about the potentially damaging impact on human health of the impulsive infrasound (inaudible intermittent noise) produced by wind turbines. Yet instead of dealing with the problem it has, on the most generous interpretation, swept the issue under the carpet – or worse, been involved in a concerted cover-up operation.

AEI Wind Farm Noise Resources
This is a review of current state of research on issues of wind turbine noise including problems and limitations of the current research.  It may be a starting point for those interested in seeing what we have to work with in terms of science.  It was updated in 2012 but there is likely newer data as well.  It is associated with the Acoustic Ecology website:

AEI Wind Farm Noise 2012: Science and policy overview

Wind turbines can harm humans: a case study
In Canada the Ontario Government has adopted wind energy as a renewable energy source. Our research in Ontario documents some individuals living in the environs of wind turbines report experiencing physiological and psychological symptoms, reduced quality of life, degraded living conditions, and adverse social economic impacts. Some families have abandoned their homes or negotiated financial agreements with wind energy developers.

Wind Turbine Syndrome
A report on a natural experiment.

Peer-reviewed study shatters claims that wind turbines are “safe”
In a groundbreaking study at Pacific Hydro’s Cape Bridgewater windfarm in the state of Victoria, Australia’s leading acoustical engineer Steven Cooper found that a unique infrasound pattern, which he had labelled “Wind Turbine Signature” in previous studies, correlates (through a “trend line”) with the occurrence and severity of symptoms of residents who had complained of often-unbearable “sensations”. These include sleep disturbance, headaches, heart racing, pressure in the head, ears or chest, etc. as described by the residents (symptoms generally known as Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS), or the euphemism “noise annoyance.”

Sound specialist offers expertise on industrial wind installations
Bolton explained the many ways wind developers methodology is flawed. Field measurements are not done correctly (i.e. – improper microphone placement, no justification for sampling sites, etc.); accurate samplings need to be done for a full year to account for seasonal variations, but aren’t; and computer prediction models wind developers rely on are inadequate because they don’t account for modulation, coherence, refraction, and icing.

Do wind turbines cause health problems?
Until recently, there were three main issues regarding the possible downsides of wind power: bird and­ bat deaths, cost, and disrupting the appearance of natural landscapes. But a new objection to wind power has popped up in the past few years, resting on the research of a few scientists. The latest argument states that wind power endangers the health of people who live near windmills. Some people call this theory “wind-turbine syndrome.” Although the extent of the phenomenon is unknown, there does seem to be something to it.

Towns in NYS with proposed Industrial wind projects (pdf)

Shirley Wind Project, Brown County, Wisconsin

• Overview (pdf)
• Cover Page (pdf)
A Cooperative Measurement Survey and Analysis of Low Frequency and Infrasound at the Shirley Wind Farm in Brown County, Wisconsin. Dated 1/17/13, listing four acoustical consulting firms involved in the study. Three quotes from the study are also included.
• Comments by Herb Coussons, MD, from Brown County Supervisors Meeting (pdf)
2/15/17. This doctor has been treating patients impacted by the industrial wind turbines in the area.
• Press release from Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy (pdf)
9/23/17. This summarizes a joint meeting of the Brown County Human Services Committee and the Board of Health on 9/12/17.

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