Pierpont’s research on wind turbine infrasound vindicated

Sep 14, 2012


Infrasound from Wind Turbines Is Indisputable, and Moreover It Makes People Ill

I am a professional consultant engineer, and my company is based in the United Kingdom,” begins Dr. Malcolm A. Swinbanks in his testimony to the Michigan Public Service Commission, “but fourteen years ago I was asked to come to the US to lead an advanced research project for the Office of Naval Research. My American wife & I now live in Port Hope, Michigan. During the course of my career, I became a consultant to many different companies and research organizations on a wide variety of problems related to unsteady dynamics, noise, vibration, shock and acoustics.

“I have worked personally with both Professor J.E. Ffowcs-Williams, and Dr. H.G. Leventhall, two of the foremost UK acousticians. Twenty to 30 years ago, I worked directly in collaboration with both on several low-frequency noise installations, thus gaining first-hand experience of the problems associated with low-frequency noise and infrasound. My actual time-on-site addressing low-frequency noise probably well exceeds either”—Malcolm A. Swinbanks, PhD.  (Click here for Dr. Swinbanks’s full report to the Michigan PSC.  It is very revealing of the true nature of wind turbine infrasound.)

Malcolm Swinbanks, PhD

In his 2006 Canadian paper relating to infrasound and wind turbines, Leventhall criticised Dr Nina Pierpont for having referred to the impulsive noise from wind-turbines as “infrasound,” arguing that the relevant paper that she had quoted by G.P. van den Berg did not relate to infrasound at all, but only to dBA levels.

In 2003 & 2004, G.P. van den Berg actually published two separate papers, both relating to the specific windfarm in Holland that he (van den Berg) had assessed. The first paper did indeed only relate to dBA levels, but the second paper referred explicitly to low-frequency and infrasound, and described how the turbine blade passing in front of the tower could generate extremely low frequency impulses. Van den Berg did not consider that this infrasound was audible, but there is no doubt that he fully acknowledged its presence.

This second paper was presented at the conference on Low Frequency Noise in Maastricht in August/September 2004. Dr H.G. Leventhall was one of the conference organisers, and subsequently edited the proceedings.

Geoff Leventhall, PhD (Physics)

In 1989, NASA identified & reported that a windfarm in Hawaii, with modern-style upwind rotors, was generating impulsive infrasound & low frequency sound which they attributed to the effects of the rotor passing through wind-gradients and shadowing. They analysed the sound characteristics, and then simulated numerically how different wind-gradients could give rise to such effects.

I have myself analysed data from a windfarm in Michigan, which was generating unambiguous impulsive infrasound (emphasis added).  It was possible to identify separate impulsive contributions from six different turbines at distances of 1500 feet to 1.2 miles.

The maximum power spectral levels for the discrete frequencies associated with the harmonics of the impulses was 64dB SPL (Sound Pressure Level). But the overall rms (root mean square) sound power level was 77dB SPL, and the peak of the time waveforms of the impulses was 88-90dB.

This indicates one of the major errors that has consistently been made in assessing infrasound from wind-turbines. Examining rms power spectrum peaks shows only 64dB, while comparing time domain impulsive peak levels shows 88-90dB. This represents ~25dB difference in the assessment of the infrasonic intensity.

I explicitly pointed out this feature at the Stratford Conference on Low-Frequency Noise in May 2012, and at the Internoise Conference in New York in August 2012.

I would comment that I first became aware of the physical effects of infrasound when working extensively on site with an industrial gas turbine in 1980. I identified specific aspects which were closely related to some symptoms of sea-sickness with which I was very familiar, being a keen offshore sailor.

Thus I did not doubt that infrasound under some circumstances can cause adverse effects, and the relationship to sea-sickness implied that there was probably some interaction with the balance mechanisms of the inner ear.

So the more recent work of Dr Nina Pierpont did not strike me as heresy—rather, it endorsed an opinion that I had formed from my own direct, first-hand experience in an entirely different context, almost 30 years earlier.

Malcolm Swinbanks, PhD.


(1) Infrasound from Wind Turbines:  Fact, Fiction or Deception. Geoff Leventhall. Canadian Acoustics Vol 34 No 2 (2006) p 29

(2) Effects of the wind profile at night on wind turbine sound. G.P. van den Berg. Journal of Sound and Vibration Vol 277 (2004) p 955

(3) Do wind turbines produce significant low frequency sound levels? G.P. van den Berg. 11th International Meeting on Low Frequency Noise and Its Control, Maastricht, 30 August–1 September 2004

(4) Noise Radiation Characteristics of the Westinghouse WWG-0600 (600kW) Wind Turbine Generator. K.P. Shepherd, H.H. Hubbard, NASA TM101576 July 1989

  1. Comment by Frank Haggerty on 09/14/2012 at 6:04 pm

    Massachusetts : The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative was the state’s economic development agency for renewable energy aka commercial wind turbines. Early in 2005 their noise reports and feasibility studies included two distinct types of noise .One was regulatory which is measured in decibels the other was called Human Annoyance .Today we know the Human Annoyance is called Infra Sound .

    From 2010 onward the State of Massachusetts denied there were any other types of sound from wind turbines except the legal description of decibels.

    Today in 2012 the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), has taken over the role of the old Massachusetts Technology Collaborative .The new agency has put out a RFP to study all the types of wind turbine noise an admission that the residents complaints in Falmouth,Fairhaven ,Scituate and Kingston are true ! Thousands of complaints have been filed .

    There is still much work to as the state plans to spend years on a study while the land based wind turbines continue to be installed taking parts of our bundle of property rights

    Next is the RFP from Massachusetts :


    Research Study on Wind Turbine Acoustics
    Division: Renewable Energy Generation
    Type: Solicitations

    The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), seeks proposals from qualified acoustic consultants that can assist MassCEC and MassDEP in conducting a Research Study on Wind Turbine Acoustics.

  2. Comment by Melodie Burkett on 09/14/2012 at 6:18 pm

    What more do they need to shut the damned things down? The gig is up! It is over! Why continue to bring this form of torture to human beings and animals???

    Thank you, Dr. Nina Pierpont. You blazed a trail and caught them all with their pants down! Rub it in!

    Make the buggers eat crow!

    Best regards always,

    Melodie Burkett


  3. Comment by Marsh Rosenthal on 09/14/2012 at 7:53 pm

    It’s time to de-program the “greenwashed.” This is a massive, full time job for us volunteers, but some of us are only too glad to do it!

    First we have to “out” the Big Wind shills, the doctors McCunneys and Leventhalls, the revolving door political hacks like Ian Bowles in Massachusetts, former energy tzar to Gov. Deval Patrick, the robotic neo-liberal state governors of Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, NewYork, the windy reaches of the Mid-west, and California, the McGuintys of Ontario, and their counterparts throughout the world.

    Next we must always refer to the facts that have been reported out by Dr. Nina Pierpont and Dr. Sarah Laurie, facts that they have learned from real patients who have presented to them with the spectrum of symptoms we understand to be Wind Turbine Syndrome.

    We must be prepared to speak from comprehension of the fine work of doctors Malcolm Swinbanks and Alec Salt about the reality and biophysical dangers of ILFNs (infra-sound and low frequency noise).

    We must be able to teach the lay public that there is no buffering or insulation possible to make a home safe from the extremely long wavelengths of the ILFNs (as long as 8.5 meters), propagated by Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs).

    We have to remind the “greenwashed” that it is never alright to stroke one’s vanity to achieve the “green” warm and fuzzies, to “save the planet” at the expense of the health of innocent children in their homes and schools—that this is, indeed, criminal.

    The great question for all of us is “How shall this be done?”


  4. Comment by Curt Devlin on 09/15/2012 at 10:45 am

    Vindication Indeed! I would also point out that when the findings in one field of science, fundamentally corroborate the findings in a completely independent field of science; you have one of the most powerful forms of scientific evidence you can get. Modern genetics, for example, have corroborated almost everything Charles Darwin said or predicted would be eventually found out about the biological machinery of mutation and evolution.

    Malcolm Swinbanks has demonstrated something of great importance to science, technology, and public health in its own right. He has shown that infrasound produced by wind turbines must be measured in a very special way due to the special pulsing character of the sound. When measured in this way, the intensity of the sound at the lowest frequencies is far greater than previously believed, and far greater than necessary to have devastating health impacts on people who live near them. In this way, he also provides a wholly independent scientific corroboration for what Dr. Nina Pierpont has called Wind Turbine Syndrome.

    In my opinion, this is a moment to stop and reflect on what has been really vindicated here. In her book on Wind Turbine Syndrome, Dr. Pierpont recounts here first awareness of this problem. She quoted a letter from a woman named Cheryl LeClair, desperately stating “I am appealing for any help that you can give me.”

    Later, Dr. Pierpont would write:

    “When patients talk to me, I take seriously and believe the symptoms and observations they present, especially when I see evidence that the observer—the patient—is thoughtful and alert. My job is to provide the explanation, which becomes a working hypothesis for how to treat the problem within a physiologic or neurophysiologic framework.”

    These are the words of both science and compassion. They are the words of someone who can harness a brilliant scientific mind to genuine human-heartedness that always places the patient’s well-being first and foremost. These are the words of someone who has earned the title of doctor in the truest sense of the word. She focused her concern on the ‘what’ was wrong, rather than the ‘how’ it was caused; confident that, eventually, we would learn more about the how.

    In my humble opinion, THAT approach is what has been vindicated; refusing to ignore the fundamental, irrefutable and irreducible fact that people who live near IWTs are getting sick and need help. In so doing, Dr. Pierpont provided the crucial, ground-breaking work needed to raise awareness of this danger and help other physician’s around the word do the same. She did the right thing whether or not we ever fully understand the scientific ‘how’ and ‘why’.

  5. Comment by Fiona on 09/15/2012 at 11:32 am

    Melodie, real science, facts, and evidence do not matter to these thugs. We can argue this until the cows come home. Ignore, ignore, ignore is the name of their game. The government is operating as a Mafia. We know who the players are, why this criminal activity continues, and who is reaping the cash. An all out revolt may be the only thing that will stop this insanity.

    The following is a comment I recently received. “Those who have lost their homes, their health—some people have been diagnosed as terminal; they have nothing left to lose?” The ranks are growing. The war chest is ready for battle. It’s a sad, mad world. I would have never thought it would come to this. Rest in peace, those who fought for our freedom. You have not been forgotten.


  6. Comment by johana on 09/15/2012 at 5:01 pm

    I can’t read nor respond to “stuff” that uses words like “wind farms” and “windmills” anymore.


  7. Comment by Johannes Karl Marciniak on 09/15/2012 at 10:42 pm

    We live in a Darwinian society: survival of the most corrupt!


  8. Comment by Kathy Wall on 09/16/2012 at 3:08 am

    Yes, ignore, ignore, ignore is certainly the name of the game. Thank God for those of you (notably Malcolm Swinbanks) who have tirelessly persevered in researching and exposing the true science of wind turbine infrasound and the devastation it will bring–paper after paper and symposium after grueling symposium, in the face of hostility and blank stares! Yep! Follow the money! A ton of thanks to you for what you are doing, and may you be rewarded with a win–and the gratitude of the millions who will have been spared!

    “All that is necessary for the evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

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