Wind turbine noise adversely affects people and the environment

Here is a paper from the Energy Collective, which includes a summary of noise regulations and setbacks. The writer’s conclusion is that worldwide regulation is needed, otherwise local regulation of noise is developed, with heavy influence from the wind power industry.

The problems with wind turbine noise are worldwide, and need worldwide regulation
The problems with wind turbine noise are worldwide, and need worldwide regulation

December 19, 2016
Willem Post
Europe and the US have been building onshore wind turbine plants in rural areas for more than 25 years. Anyone living within about 1.0 mile of such plants would hear the noises year-round, year after year. Those nearby people would be experiencing:

  • Decreasing property values.
  • Damage to their health, due to lack of sleep and peace of mind.
  • Living with closed windows and doors, due to year-round noises.
  • Exposure to infrasound.

The wind turbine noise problem is worldwide. Due to a lack of worldwide guidelines, various political entities have been developing their own codes for the past 30 years. The World Health Organization is finally addressing the lack of detailed guidelines regarding such noises.
World Health Organization Noise Guidelines: WHO, publishes detailed guidelines regarding various, everyday noises, such as near highways and airports, within urban communities and in work places. The guidelines serve as input to local noise codes.
In general, wind turbines are located in rural areas. When they had low rated outputs, say about 500 kW in the 1960s and 1970s, they made little audible noise, and the infrasound was weak. However, when rated outputs increased to 1000 kW or greater, the audible and infrasound noises became excessive and complaints were made by nearby people all over the world.
WHO, which has not published any detailed guidelines regarding wind turbine noises, will be releasing environmental noise guidelines for the European region in the near future.
Worldwide guidelines regarding wind turbine noises are needed to protect nearby rural people, such as regarding:

  • The maximum outdoor dBA value, how that value is arrived at, such as by averaging over one hour, where that value is measured, such as near a residence, or at the resident property line to enable that resident to continue to enjoy his entire property.
  • How to measure, or calculate the outdoor-to-indoor sound attenuation of a residence.
  • How much setback is needed, such as one mile to minimize infrasound impacts on nearby residents.
  • The maximum dB value of infrasound, how that value is arrived at, where that value is measured.
  • How to determine the need for a 5 dB annoyance penalty.

The lack of such guidelines has resulted in various political jurisdictions creating their own codes. That process has been heavily influenced by well-financed, pro-wind interests, which aim to have the least possible regulation to maximize profits.
Comparison of Wind Turbine Codes: Below are some highlights from the noise codes of various political entities to illustrate their diversity:
1) DENMARK: Because Denmark was an early developer of wind turbine plants, its noise code is more detailed than of most political entities. It has a buffer zone of 4 times total height of a wind turbine, about 4 x 500 = 2,000 ft, about 0.61 km (no exceptions), and it also has the following requirements regarding outdoor and indoor noise:

  • For dwellings, summer cottages, etc.: 39 dBA (wind speeds of 8 m/s, 18 mph) and 37 dBA (wind speeds of 6 m/s, 13 mph)
  • For dwellings in open country: 44 dBA (wind speeds of 8 m/s) and 42 dBA (wind speeds of 6 m/s)

The below regulations describe the methods and time periods over which sounds are to be measured:

  • Page 4, par 5.1.1 mentions averaging over various periods. Only the worst average readings of a period are to be considered for compliance.
  • Page 4, par 5.1.2 mentions a 5 dB annoyance penalty must be added to the worst average readings for a period for clearly audible tonal and impulse sounds with frequencies greater than 160 Hz, which would apply to wind turbine sounds.
  • Page 6, par 5.4 mentions limits for indoor A-weighted low frequency noise 10 – 160 Hz, and G-weighted infrasound 5 – 20 Hz.

“If the perceived noise contains either clearly audible tones, or clearly audible impulses, a 5 dB annoyance penalty shall be added to the measured equivalent sound pressure level” That means, if a measured outdoor reading is 40 dBA (open country, wind speed 6 m/s), and annoyance is present, the reading is increased to 45 dBA, which would not be in compliance with the above-required 42 dBA limit.
In some cases, a proposed wind turbine plant would not be approved, because of the 5 dB annoyance penalties. The noise of wind turbines varies up and down. The annoyance conditions associated with wind turbines occur year-round. The annoyance conditions associated with other noise sources usually occur much less frequently.
NOTE: The 5 dB penalty does not apply to indoor and outdoor low frequency and infrasound noises, i.e., 160 Hz or less.
– For both categories (dwellings, summer cottages, etc.; open country), the mandatory limit for low frequency noise is 20 dBA (Vermont’s limit is 30 dBA), which applies to the calculated indoor noise level in the 1/3-octave bands 10 – 160 Hz, at both 6 and 8 m/s wind speed. The purpose of the regulation is to ensure neither the usual noise, nor the low frequency noise, will annoy nearby people when the wind turbines are in operation.
Denmark’s Controversial Noise Attenuation Calculations: The controversy in Denmark is regarding the Danish EPA assuming high attenuation factors for calculating attenuation from 44 dBA (outdoor) to 20 dBA (indoor, windows closed) for frequencies above 63 Hz, which yield calculated indoor noise levels less than 20 dBA. The Danish EPA prefers assuming high factors, because they result in compliance, which is favorable for wind turbines.
However, acoustics engineers have made indoor field measurements (supposedly “too difficult to measure”, according to the Danish EPA), which indicate many houses near wind turbine plants have lower than assumed attenuation factors, which results in indoor noise levels greater than 20 dBA, i.e., non-compliance, which is not favorable for wind turbines.
However, the final arbiters should not be government personnel using assumptions, but the nearby people. Increasingly, those people are venting their frustrations at public hearings and in public demonstrations.
2) POLAND is considering a proposed a law with a 2.0 km (1.24 mile) buffer zone between a wind turbine and any building. That means at least 65% of Poland would be off limits to wind turbines. Future wind turbine plants likely would be offshore. …
Read the full article here.

What's your reaction?


  • notinduttondunwich
    Posted December 20, 2016 11:50 am 0Likes

    And here in Ontario we are at 500 M for non participation and 350 M for participating residential dwellings. Still have not found out yet who exactly approved these distances….. smoke and mirrors….

    • Barbara
      Posted December 20, 2016 5:42 pm 0Likes

      Why should Canadians accept some kind of world wide IWT “noise” regulations?
      This would only further remove the peoples’ control over IWT “noise” issues.

      • Barbara
        Posted December 20, 2016 9:00 pm 0Likes

        Move the pea under the shells again. However, it’s good to know about this.
        This fellow forgot to mention that people in the U.S. are fighting IWT “noise” issues in every way they can.
        Does offshore include IWTs in the Great Lakes?

  • Richard Mann
    Posted December 20, 2016 3:38 pm 0Likes

    Here is a “time line” showing the history of Wind Turbine Noise problems, going back as far as 1979. Each entry provides documentation:
    1979 “First complaints received from a dozen families within a 3km radius of turbine”.
    1981 “Wind turbine operation creates enormous sound pressure waves”
    1982 “Closed windows and doors do not protect occupants from LFN”
    1982 “NASA research on human impacts provided to wind industry”
    1985 “Hypothesis for infrasound-induced motion sickness”
    1987 “Wind industry told that dB(A) unsuitable to measure LFN emissions from wind turbines”

    2004 “Wind industry knows noise models inadequate” (from Vestas)

    2011 “Vestas knew that low frequency noise from larger turbines needed greater setbacks”

  • Richard Mann
    Posted December 20, 2016 3:41 pm 0Likes

    I wrote the Huron County Health Board on December 5th. The letter is public, on my web page (http://www.cs.uwaterloo/~mannr) and 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.
    Richard Mann
    Associate Professor
    School of Computer Science
    Faculty of Mathematics
    University of Waterloo

  • Tracy
    Posted December 24, 2016 11:18 am 0Likes

    Hello Richard,
    I was a relatively healthy middle aged woman prior to the wind turbine development at my home in Clear Creek, ON.
    I stayed there for a year and a half, questioning but not wanting to believe the government would permit a development as such that would have a negative health impact on those exposed to infrasound.
    I was a high school teacher-department head for many years. I actually completed my under grad degree at the University of Waterloo.
    Due to health problems, I am no longer in the classroom. Everyday is a struggle, mentally, physically, and financially.
    I moved out of my house in 2010 which is now surrounded by 18 1.65 Vesta wind turbines-within a 3 km radius. I continue to pay the mortgage on my home that sits empty while renting my current accommodations. It’s tough.
    Knowing what I suffered during the time I lived at my house; I cringe when I hear of “consenting” adults to be exposed to infrasound.. I’ve been there, got the t-shirt unfortunately.
    Before leaving my home for good, I left the house many times in the night to get away from the turbines. I often slept in my vehicle even in the cold winter nights. I would leave my house in a state of impairment; very lethargic, suffering from vertigo, tinnitus, uterine bleeding and diarrhea. I had my grocery bag in hand (barf bag). These symptoms subsided after a couple hours away. I would return home in the early morning, get ready for school, and start another day.
    I have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), two Tako pseudo attacks. I was anemic.
    I have had numerous and painful medical procedures. I have cost our health care system thousands of dollars.
    I still suffer from tinnitus, vertigo, and memory loss. I have very poor bone density and a weakened immune system. I again have an outbreak of shingles on my face. I have a brain aneurism, inoperable at this time. Tmj was another disorder-joint disorder of the jaw I developed. Chronic fatigue and mental exhaustion is never ending. I could go on and on. I have reems of medical documentation and reports I would consider making available should be requested.
    A concern I have, regarding your studies of the effects of infrasound is that the intensity of impact and complications vary in people. There are many variables e.g. gender, age, amount of exposure.
    The affects and illness is gradual; it sneaks up on you. I did not realize how bad I was feeling until I moved away.
    When home, my bp would spike. I have seen it in the 200/150 range. Cortisol levels were also significantly elevated.
    There is no doubt in my mind, infrasound, low frequency waves are deadly.
    I have been living this nightmare since 2008. It has been hell. My family has been torn apart. Wind CEO Mike Crawley is aware of what has happened in Clear Creek. He has done nothing to help me; the same with various levels of government. I think they hope people as myself will get tired and go away if we don’t die first.
    I will not volunteer to be exposed to infrasound. As I mentioned, if my medical records are useful, I would consider disclosure.
    I very much appreciate your time, effort and expertise in the work you are doing. Hopefully in my lifetime, I will see an end to this. We must have justice.
    Merry Christmas y’all

  • Sommer
    Posted December 24, 2016 12:44 pm 0Likes

    Tracy, your truth, so courageously told, is a warning that the people who are currently reporting harm from turbines near their homes, could develop even more serious symptoms over the course of a year or two or three. People should not be forced to leave their homes in order to be safe. This is absolutely wrong. These turbines need to be turned off now!

  • Sommer
    Posted December 24, 2016 12:48 pm 0Likes

    Read this article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and read the comments thoroughly, if you think for even one minute that delaying the turning off of these turbines is ethically acceptable. If after reading this you still think it is safe to wait another year or two or three, give your head a shake! Your moral compass is not working!

  • Barbara
    Posted December 24, 2016 2:16 pm 0Likes

    These are huge industrial machines “pumping” out “noise”.
    Then some have the nerve to compare this to “road noise”.
    Governments, wind industry and NGOs are promoting this and their trail is easy to follow.

  • Sommer
    Posted December 26, 2016 2:57 pm 0Likes

    Barbara, with all that you have kindly and consistently uncovered about these connections over the years, a chart exposing the names involved, the key connections, the wind companies, agencies, non governmental operatives, paid and elected government ‘leaders’ at all levels, as well as individuals who played vital roles in pushing this forward, without proper health studies, and then neglecting to protect people who were/are reporting the harm, needs to be made public.

    • Barbara
      Posted December 29, 2016 4:48 pm 0Likes

      For sure, a great many rural Ontarians know what is taking place and many have worked on the different aspects of what’s taking place.

      • Barbara
        Posted December 30, 2016 3:59 pm 0Likes

        Knowledge of the who, what, where, when and why are necessary. The why is money but ideology may be mixed in with the why/money.

  • Notinduttondunwich
    Posted December 28, 2016 4:43 pm 0Likes

    Please people don’t think that somehow miraculously the liberal government will come clean and admit they $#!!^*$ up!!!!!
    Please people don’t think that the individuals who put us in this mess will have any personal responsibility whatsoever for any of their errors… it’s just how it goes for us here in Ontario….. we pay for the the shortsightednes of our leaders… we pay for their greed…. we pay for their “not following closely enough” (Katty)….
    we pay for it all no matter what happens because our politicians have diplomatic ammunity!!!!!! Plain and simple…..

  • Sommer
    Posted December 29, 2016 2:10 pm 0Likes

    People who love their homes and who have a strong instinct to protect their lives and the lives of they love can’t afford to be pessimistic about a breakthrough in the near future.

  • Sommer
    Posted December 29, 2016 2:13 pm 0Likes

    Try that again…my apologies….
    People who love their homes and who have a strong instinct to protect their lives and the lives of those they love, from being harmed, can’t afford to be pessimistic about a breakthrough in the near future.

  • T3
    Posted December 29, 2016 7:02 pm 0Likes

    “Politicians have diplomatic ammunity” maybe so…They are people just like us.
    Politicians have not been working within the law, within our Constitutional Rights. People who harm people are “bad” people. Perhaps penalities will also work in the same forum.
    Scenario: If you were ill and had a limited amount of time left and someone is hurting your family, would you be inclined to protect them and stop this?
    If I was the bad person hurting others, I certainly would be looking over my shoulder!
    Jus’ sayin’…
    Words are not to be taken out of context and the meaning of the above content skewed. This is not intended as a threat btw.
    The ultimate judgement day is when one leaves this life on earth. It is inevitable. Fat cat wind developers will leave this earth just as I do, with nothing!! These fat bastards will be hanging well below my cloud. Maybe I’ll pee on them ha ha!

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