Medical school research team confirms wind turbine infrasound can produce Wind Turbine Syndrome (USA)

Apr 1, 2014

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Editor’s note:  Professor Alec Salt and his colleague, Professor Jeffrey Lichtenhan, both in the Dept. of Otolaryngology in the School of Medicine at Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri), have published a superb article, excerpted, below.

Alec N. Salt and Jeffrey T. Lichtenhan, “How does wind turbine noise affect people?” Acoustics Today, vol. 10 (Winter 2014), pp. 20-28.

They blow Geoff Leventhall out of the water, with his now famous yet dogged misunderstanding of inner ear physiology, and they deliver the death blow to any future A-weighted noise measurements.  Their laboratory research demonstrates, unequivocally, that infrasound of the sort produced by industrial wind turbines does indeed affect the cochlea and vestibular organs.  (Nina Pierpont pointed out the likelihood of vestibular effect in her book, “Wind Turbine Syndrome,” in 2009, which Leventhall and other wind energy consultants have seen fit to trash — and continue to trash, digging their scholarly graves ever deeper.)

Leventhall-Chapman2

If you suffer from Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS) and are getting nowhere with your physician, show him (her) this article.  If you’re a WTS sufferer and want some action from your municipal or state or provincial government, or board of health, show them this article — and make an appointment with a lawyer.

Dr. Salt has been publishing in this vein for at least 5 years.  Slowly but surely his laboratory is showing the physiological mechanism for the symptoms that Pierpont christened “Wind Turbine Syndrome.”  Those of  you suffering from WTS don’t need Dr. Salt to tell you that, yes, you’re sick.  He can, however, explain why you’re sick.

While Salt and his colleagues continue to figure out the exact pathophysiological mechanisms, justice and humaneness and common sense plus of course the “precautionary principle” would say that all wind turbine installation projects should be put on “hold” while the clinical and scientific jury is out.

Click here for the full article.
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Excerpt:

The essence of the current debate is that on one hand you have the well-funded wind industry (1) advocating that infrasound be ignored because the measured levels are below the threshold of human hearing, allowing noise levels to be adequately documented through A-weighted sound measurements; (2) dismissing the possibility that any variants of wind turbine syndrome exist (Pierpont 2009) even when physicians (e.g., Steven D. Rauch, M.D. at Harvard Medical School) cannot otherwise explain some patients’ symptoms; and (3) arguing that it is unnecessary to separate wind turbines and homes based on prevailing sound levels.

On the other hand, you have many people who claim to be so distressed by the effects of wind turbine noise that they cannot tolerate living in their homes. Some move away, either at financial loss or bought-out by the turbine operators. Others live with the discomfort, often requiring medical therapies to deal with their symptoms. Some, even members of the same family, may be unaffected. Below is a description of the disturbance experienced by a woman in Europe we received a few weeks ago as part of an unsolicited e-mail.

‘From the moment that the turbines began working I experienced vertigo-like symptoms on an ongoing basis. In many respects, what I am experiencing now is actually worse than the ‘dizziness’ I have previously experienced, as the associated nausea is much more intense. For me the pulsating, humming, noise that the turbines emit is the predominant sound that I hear and that really seems to affect me.

While the Chief Scientist [the person who came to take sound measurements in her house] undertaking the measurement informed me that he was aware of the low frequency hum the turbines produced (he lives close to a wind farm himself and had recorded the humming noise levels indoors in his own home) he advised that I could tune this noise out and that any adverse symptoms I was experiencing were simply psychosomatic.’ . . .

Given the knowledge that the ear responds to low frequency sounds and infrasound, we knew that comparisons with benign sources were invalid and the logic to A-weight sound measurements was deeply flawed scientifically. . . .

From this understanding we conclude that very low frequency sounds and infrasound, at levels well below those that are heard, readily stimulate the cochlea. Low frequency sounds and infrasound from wind turbines can therefore stimulate the ear at levels well below those that are heard. . . .

No one has ever evaluated whether tympanostomy tubes alleviate the symptoms of those living near wind turbines. From the patient’s perspective, this may be preferable to moving out of their homes or using medical treatments for vertigo, nausea, and/or sleep disturbance. The results of such treatment, whether positive, negative, would likely have considerable scientific influence on the wind turbine noise debate. . . .

Another concern that must be dealt with is the development of wind turbine noise measurements that have clinical relevance. The use of A-weighting must be reassessed as it is based on insensitive, Inner Hair Cell (IHC)-mediated hearing and grossly misrepresents inner ear stimulation generated by the noise. In the scientific domain, A-weighting sound measurements would be unacceptable when many elements of the ear exhibit a higher sensitivity than hearing. The wind industry should be held to the same high standards. Full-spectrum monitoring, which has been adopted in some reports, is essential. . . .

Given the present evidence, it seems risky at best to continue the current gamble that infrasound stimulation of the ear stays confined to the ear and has no other effects on the body. For this to be true, all the mechanisms we have outlined (low- frequency-induced amplitude modulation, low frequency sound-induced endolymph volume changes, infrasound stimulation of type II afferent nerves, infrasound exacerbation of noise-induced damage and direct infrasound stimulation of vestibular organs) would have to be insignificant. We know this is highly unlikely and we anticipate novel findings in the coming years that will influence the debate.

 

  1. Comment by Marshall Rosenthal on 04/02/2014 at 9:16 am

    My friends, I have a story to share. Yesterday, I traveled two hours from my Berkshire home in western Mass. with my wife, to have a basal cell carcinoma removed from the right side of my nose. This took a good four hours to complete, and I was fully awake and lucid throughout. The cutting, cauterizing and closure were done using local anesthetics.

    During the final hour of closure of the wound on my nose, I decided to regale my two wonderfully skilled dermatological surgeons with the wind turbine saga, about which, understandably, they had no inkling. I told them about the plethora of metabolic illnesses induced by the ILFNs, the reported cardiac arrests and the expulsion of thousands of wind turbine neighbors from their homes all over the world, their powerlessness to find much of any support from the public, their governments, and others in the mercenary pay of the wind power industry, the analogy with the ten-year plight of the victims of Love Canal, NY with that of the 200 families of Falmouth, MA who are now four years into their suffering, about how Angela Merkel is trying to extricate her Germany from the “renewable energy” mistake that they have made, and how Vladymir Putin is enjoying himself all the way to the bank because he has one hand on the natural gas valve and the other around the throat of Germany and all the Baltic States, controlling the price and flow of all their natural gas.

    I gave the entire listening surgical group a glimpse of the contemporary world that they could never receive from the corporate news media.

    Do you suppose that Putin’s putsch in the Crimea was a diversion for Obama to mask the fact that he is interested in developing oil reserves under that land? (And why do you suppose a Blackhawk helicopter flew low over my property two days ago? Was the saber rattling, gesticulating Obama trying to make a double statement to Putin, and to an old war horse like me? Perhaps I flatter myself.)

    But, here’s the point. The disconnect with reality in this country is so severe that Americans, and particularly, most of the practicing clinical community, remain clueless of the physics and medicine of the wind turbine plague, nor are they cognizant of the “green” lies that have landed us in the world excrement that we have waded into.

  2. Comment by Curt Devlin on 04/04/2014 at 1:04 pm

    Dear Professor Salt and Professor Lichtenhan,

    Let me begin by thanking you both for the fine research you have been doing for many years now. I have read your most recent findings with great care and I will re-read them again, soon. This work reflects your deep experience and concentrated attention to the impact of infrasound on the inner ear (including vestibular organs). In the past, you have posted a summary of your findings written in a way that makes them more accessible non-clinical readers and I hope you will continue this practice with this latest paper. I am sure that our editor will be happy to post a link to it in these pages.

    I must also thank you both for your unwavering insistence on finding and reporting the truth on a matter of such great importance for public policy and social justice. Perhaps it will seem odd, that anyone should thank scientists for seeking the truth or faithfully describing it. After all, that is what any scientist with an ounce of integrity should do! As Malcolm X famously put it — and every scientist should agree — “I am for truth, no matter who tells it. I am for justice, no matter who it is for or against.”

    Still, there is an increasing number who have the academic credentials to call themselves scientists or researchers, but in point of fact utterly lack the requisite honor and integrity to stick to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. For them, the “truth” is nothing more than commodity to be sold to the highest bidder — which, in this case, has been the wind industry.

    By publishing rock solid research that tends to undermine the claims of this unscrupulous industry and its intellectual prostitutes, you will in all likelihood expose yourselves to an endless attacks on your character. Ad hominem attack is the tactic of last resort for scoundrels who can find no fault with your work. Anyone who thinks this is an exaggerated danger need look no further than the scorn heaped on Dr. Pierpont’s reputation by the wind industry and its minions, for no other crime than publishing a superb piece of science with stainless steel integrity.

    For this reason, those of us who place the highest value on the truth, also owe you a debt of gratitude for having the courage to go only where the evidence leads. Perhaps you can take comfort knowing that when the blowhards of Big Wind start assailing your character, they do so because they cannot find fault with your work. As you have noted, we must consider the source when it comes from an industry that apparently is unable to distinguish the difference between an industrial wind turbine and a refrigerator.

    Sincere thanks,

    Curt Devlin
    Fairhaven MA

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