By Guest Column –Mark Duchamp October 6, 2014
On October 1st and 2nd, two leading UK newspapers wrote about a new study from the University of Munich which found a way of measuring the effects of low-frequency sound (LFS) on the inner ear (1). This is an important discovery in that it could lead to progress in the understanding of hearing loss, an impairment that affects millions of people and causes much grief.
When health authorities refuse to measure accurately infrasound and low-frequency noise emitted by wind turbines, they are obviously protecting the wind industry. But they are also in breach of the criminal codes of most countries, which contain provisions for doing no harm to people, particularly of a physical nature. There is such a wealth of first hand reports of harm to health, chronic sleep deprivation and home abandonment from rural residents (2); there is such a number of relevant studies (3) that politicians can’t just sit there and deny, deny, and deny that serious harm to human health is occurring. They MUST repeat the experiments of the U. of Munich study (1), but in the field this time, next to wind turbines, using actual LFS pulses emitted by these machines, including infrasound. Length of exposure is key, as windfarm neighbours are submitted to this bombardment 24/7 when the wind is blowing and turbines are operating, and this over many years. Thus, the research should span over one year, minimum, and be conducted at various installations: some brand new, some with 1, 3, 6, 9 and 12 years of operation, with victims who have lived there since their inception.One of the most controversial sources of LFS lies in the nacelles of wind turbines and around their huge moving blades. Yet, governments stubbornly refuse to investigate their effects on health, thus protecting the wind industry and unprotecting the citizens. So, with reason, the authors of the press articles titled: “Could living near a wind farm make you DEAF?”and “Living close to wind farms could cause hearing damage”. This is a legitimate way of blowing the whistle, in a world where the wind/climate coalition has successfully blocked official research on LFS emitted by wind turbines since the Kelley studies in 1985-1987.
World-renowned ear specialists Alec Salt and Jeffery Lichtenhan wrote last year to the health authorities of the State of Victoria, Australia: “There are a number of false statements in your report. One severe example is “…the available evidence does not support claims that inaudible sounds can have direct physiological effects”.
So YES, the above newspapers did the right thing in blowing the whistle on the risk for windfarm neighbours of damage to their inner ears, which can lead to deafness. The risk exists. As a matter of fact, we have a written testimony of such damage reported by a chronically exposed resident from Germany.“Below we have provided citations to six publications from our group where we showed how the ear responds to low-frequency sounds up to 50 dB below the levels that would be heard. The experimental methods that were used are well established in the field of auditory physiology. Three of the below citations were peer-reviewed and published in some of the most well-respected journals in the field of acoustics and hearing science. Our publications, which were clearly neglected or conveniently overlooked, show that inaudible low-frequency sounds do indeed stimulate the ear and produce marked physiological effects”. (4)
The wind/climate coalition reacted strongly, trying to rubbish the articles which could hurt their business. They used superficial arguments, such as the fact that the U. of Munich study does not mention wind farms. Indeed it doesn’t, because it is about research into the physiological impacts of LFS in general: it does not have to list the possible sources of LFS.
The lesson to be learned is that the U. of Munich study has made an important discovery, and that its experiments need now to be repeated in the field, with wind turbines as the source of LFS stimulation.
1)—University of Munich study: Low-frequency sound affects active micromechanics in the human inner ear
– Emeritus Professor Colin Hansen et al.: The results show that there is a low-frequency noise problem associated with the Waterloo wind farm
– Testimony of a turbine host: “Whenever we are staying at the new farmhouse and the turbines are operating [2.5 km away] I have trouble getting to sleep at night. Frequently, I wake up in the morning feeling desperately tired, as though I have not slept at all. Often I simply fall asleep from exhaustion but still wake up tired. On numerous occasions I experience a deep, drumming, rumbling sensation in the skull behind my ears which is like pressure and often a pulsating, squeezing sensation at the base of my skull. I also experience irregular heartbeat while I am trying to sleep and while I am relaxing (sitting or reclining) in our house. I did not have any trouble sleeping before the turbines started operating.
Away from that home, I have not ever experienced problems with my heartbeat or with the pressure pulse sensation in my head; and I sleep incredibly well by comparison. My tinnitus comes and goes when I am away from home, but whenever I am living at the new farmhouse it is a constant source of irritation when the turbines are running. Alida does not complain of dizzy spells or head pressure when we are away from home.”
– Testimony of Mrs Linke: The first turbines to be turned on at Macarthur were about 6‚Äì7 km from the Linke house. After a period overseas prior to the turbines being commissioned Mrs Linke returned home and immediately began feeling pressure in her ears, and began to experience sleep deprivation.
As weeks passed Mrs Linke began to experience quickened heart beat and an inner vibration. Symptoms such as buzzing ears, pressure, tight chest, rapid heart beat and vibration developed and sleep was disturbed. As time passed Mr Linke also began to experience symptoms. The noise from the turbines is described as rumbling, thundering, humming, thudding and roaring and was often heard over the TV.
– Waubra Foundation: sleep deprivation and torture: Sleep deprivation (suffered by thousands who live near wind turbines) is used by certain regimes as a form of torture .
3)—European Heart Journal: evidence from epidemiologic studies demonstrates that environmental noise is associated with an increased incidence of arterial hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke.
– Cherry Tree Wind Farm—Waubra Foundation Statement: Waubra Foundation CEO Sarah Laurie’s statement to the Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal hearing is the most comprehensive and up to date report on current research into the adverse health effects experienced by those living and working near industrial wind turbines, January 2013.
4)—Dr. Alec Salt, and Dr. Jeffery Lichtenhan: physiological effects of inaudible sound