Wind turbine noise research needs to be current, WCO to acoustics journal

Wind turbine near Ridgetown ON. Advice to researchers: assume complaints are valid

In the January edition of respected publication Sound & Vibration, is an article “Health Effects from Wind Turbine Low Frequency Noise & Infrasound,” published by four authors billed as :”very experienced independent investigators.”

The debate about adverse health claims has “raged for at least a decade,” the authors write, “and is now at an impasse.”

“Permitting authorities for new projects must evaluate adverse health effect claims presented as proven factual data by opposition forces, countered by project advocates who state that no physical link to health effects has ever been demonstrated”.

The lead author, George Hessler of Virginia, USA, says that all four authors “do not doubt for a moment the sincerity and suffering of some residents close to wind farms and other low-frequency sources…this is the reason all four would like to conduct, contribute or participate in some studies that would shed some light on this issue.”

“It must also be said,” Hessler continues, “that it is human nature to exaggerate grievances …”

The full text of the article is available in PDF here: 2017 Schomer et al on Wind turbine noise and health 2017

Responses are being developed by various individuals, including colleagues involved in acoustics, and citizen groups, which we will publish when available.

Wind Concerns Ontario sent a letter to the editor expressing concern that although the word “health” is in the article title, and is the focus of the paper, not one of the four authors has any medical expertise. Moreover, WCO said, the methodology proposed by the authors fails to “include current directions of research on the rapidly changing understanding of wind turbine noise.”

“Based on the reports of the impact of wind turbines on the people living among the many Ontario projects,” WCO president Jane Wilson wrote, “we know that the emissions from wind turbines are challenging existing methodologies and analysis paradigms used by acousticians.  The range of sound pressure waves emitted by wind turbines are multi-dimensional; a full understanding of the issue can come only from acousticians who are willing to move outside of existing procedures and investigate complaints without preconceived notions of answers when working on the topic.

“It is not clear that the authors of the article were willing to do this.”

Wind Concerns suggested to the Editor, and the authors, that a good starting point is to “assume that people’s complaints are valid”; we also referred to the work done in Australia by Steven Cooper. As well, reliance on A-weighted noise measurement is no longer adequate to really assess the type of noise emissions produced by industrial-scale wind turbines.

Read Wind Concerns Ontario’s letter to the Editor of Sound & Vibration here:S&V LetterToEditorFeb25

Comments

Richard Mann
Reply

Please find attached the letter I sent to Erica Clark of Huron County Health Board (pasted below).
——————————
December 5, 2016
Erica Clark, PhD
Epidemiologist, Huron County Health Unit
77722B London Rd., RR #5
Clinton, ON N0M 1L0

Dear Erica Clark,

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me on Nov 29th.

I wanted to follow up with a summary of how I became involved in this issue, the direction and current status of my research, and my position on the issue of study of, and response to, the human health effects caused by exposure to Industrial wind turbines.

1: How I became involved.

I first became aware of this issue in May of 2013 after reading a paper by Carmen Krogh dealing with adverse health effects caused by Industrial Wind Turbines (link).
I came to believe that what was needed was a way to actually test consenting humans by exposing them to infrasound in a lab setting and to scientifically document the effects of this exposure.

2: Direction and current status of my research.

I started my research by working to develop the best infrasound recording method possible.

In partnership with Professor John Vanderkooy, we developed a method of measuring infrasound from a single turbine, thereby isolating our results from the “clutter” of other turbines, wind noise, and other “pollutants”. We published our work and our paper was accepted for presentation at Wind Turbine Noise
2015, INCE/EUROPE, in Glasgow, Scotland in April 2015 (link).

The next step was to design and build a method of producing infrasound in a lab setting. To be a useful research tool this infrasound needed to be identical to that produced by IWT’s.

This required the mathematical and computational research necessary to generate Sound Wave output to an exact duplicate of input data, namely actual turbine recordings previously captured. This would finally allow others at the university, with appropriate medical training and ethics approval, to scientifically test and document the effects of infrasound produced by IWT’s on consenting humans.

I received university funding for this research from both the Department of Computer Science and the Office of Research in October 2015 which has allowed me to proceed.
My research over the next six months led to the building of prototype #1, a proof of concept device which was able to produce infrasound in a lab setting in the range produced by IWT’s, within a small test chamber.

The system consists of 3 main components: a controllable pressure source, a modulation device that is responsive to input commands, and measurement, analysis, and recording technology. Prototype #2 is a fourfold scaled up chamber version of the proof of concept device and successfully produces infrasound in response to input commands. Prototype #2 is currently being used to refine design, data collection, and analysis.

Work is currently well along on version #3, a full scale chamber, capable of accommodating a human subject. This will finally allow others at the university with appropriate ethics approval and medical training to test the effect of infrasound on consenting human subjects.

3: My current position

I have kept up to date on the most recent scientific evidence on harm in humans and animals relative to IWT’s.

There have also been many surveys and studies regarding human health effects related to Industrial Wind Turbine exposure. Sadly many of them have actually increased suffering by concluding that the subjects were imagining their symptoms, and by varying degrees, labeling them with the “It’s all in your head” designation.

It is also of note that while many people did agree to participate in these surveys and studies in the hope that their concerns would be heard, they were certainly captive participants by being forced to live in proximity to the turbines.

This leads me to my use of the word “ethics” and my beliefs regarding the study and information gathering of a captive group of humans who are currently living in proximity to potential health effects.

I remember during my first year of engineering we were told about an oath and ring ceremony that professional engineers take prior to receiving their accreditation. These practices vary within different disciplines but two examples come readily to mind:

The National Society of Professional Engineers (USA) states “Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall: Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public”. Professional Engineers Ontario states: “A practitioner shall, regard the practitioner’s duty to the public welfare as paramount”

I believe as scientists and researchers, while we were not actually required to pledge to such an oath, we certainly have a basic moral obligation when we choose to interact with people who are suffering. At a minimum, this should be to clearly point out both the risks and benefits of interacting with us and to provide referrals to resources and other help related to their suffering. This should be the core principle of any such undertaking and certainly a legally mandated one by any board of
health.

Thank you again for taking the time to talk with me and if I can be of any help going forward please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Richard Mann
Associate Professor
School of Computer Science
Faculty of Mathematics
University of Waterloo

Barbara
Reply

This ‘Sound and Vibration’ article is just more of the same old, same old BS.

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