Wind turbines don’t belong in national parks (Pierpont)

Jun 17, 2010


Letter to the Mouvement citoyen pour la protection de nos territoires envahis par l’éolien industriel” (Quebec, Canada)

June 16, 2010

I am alarmed to hear that the government of Quebec is willing to install industrial wind turbines in the famed Parc régional Massif du sud—or in any wilderness area dedicated to the protection of wildness and wildlife.

For nearly six years, I have been studying the health impacts of industrial wind turbines on people living within 2 km of these infrasound-generating machines. Last fall, I published “Wind Turbine Syndrome: A Report on a Natural Experiment” (K-Selected Books, 2009), outlining the effects of turbine low frequency noise and infrasound on the body’s organs of balance, motion, and position sense. The book was refereed by medical specialists at leading American medical schools. (The book has since been translated into German, French, Italian, Polish, and Japanese—countries in which Wind Turbine Syndrome has become an industrial plague.)

One of the points I establish in the book is that wind developers and their hired acousticians are dead wrong when they argue, “If you can’t hear a noise, it can’t hurt you.” A recent, peer-reviewed clinical article by two otolaryngologists at the Washington University School of Medicine, Cochlear Fluids Research Laboratory (St. Louis, Missouri), has put the final nail in that coffin.1 The truth of the matter is, “If you can’t hear it, it can indeed hurt you!

Infrasound is not heard, yet it’s profoundly disturbing to the body’s vestibular organs (in the inner ear) and other organs of balance, motion, and position sense. People suffering from Wind Turbine Syndrome basically experience the equivalent of protracted seasickness—motion sickness caused by low frequency noise and infrasound which, we now know, is generated by wind turbines as huge, rapidly pulsed, sub-audible pressure waves.2

The Parc régional Massif du sud is a refuge for wildlife. My PhD degree is in Population Biology & Behavioral Ecology. I spent years in a wilderness area (Amazon jungle) studying animal behavior—the subject of my PhD dissertation. It is well known among animal behaviorists that low frequency noise and infrasound are even more devastating to wildlife than to human beings. There should be nothing surprising in this, given the fact that the vestibular organs (in the inner ear) are evolutionarily extremely ancient organs common to all vertebrates (back-boned animals).

Mother Nature, in other words, equipped all back-boned species with these highly sensitive organs of balance, motion, and position sense—organs that not only tell us where we are in physical space, but affect animal learning and behavior, including the famous “fight or flight” response. The vestibular organs are part of Nature’s grand blueprint for animal life. Anything that inappropriately triggers these organs, triggers serious behavioral and health consequences—be it in wildlife, domestic livestock, marine life, or you and me.

Remember, “If you can’t hear it, it can indeed hurt you”—including wildlife.

Nina Pierpont, MD (Johns Hopkins), PhD (Princeton)


1Alec N. Salt, PhD, and Timothy E. Hullar, MD, “Responses of the ear to low frequency sounds, infrasound, and wind turbines,” Hearing Research, in press.  Click here for a pre-publication copy of the paper.

2Lars Ceranna, Gernot Hartmann, and Manfred Henger, “The Inaudible Noise of Wind Turbines,” presented at the Infrasound Workshop, November 28 – December 02, 2005, Tahiti. Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Section B3.11. Stilleweg 2, 30655 Hannover, Germany. Download PDF copy here.  Also see the wind turbine noise measurements of American noise engineer, Richard James, E-Coustic Solutions.

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