April 1, 2006

Vibroacoustic disease and wind turbines

From Calvin Luther Martin, Malone, N.Y.:

Mariana Alves-Pereira, Dept. of Environmental Sciences & Engineering, New University of Lisbon, Caparica, Portugal, has for many years been part of a team of physicians and scientists studying the pathophysiology of low-frequency noise and infrasound on humans. She is Assistant Coordinator of the Vibroacoustic Disease Project.

Alves-Pereira and colleagues have been doing epidemiologic studies of airline pilots and technicians and other people who are chronically exposed to low-frequency noise and infrasound. The effects are grim: cardiovascular, respiratory, neurologic, and renal pathology and symptoms, which they call vibroacoustic disease.

Alves-Pereira, in discussion with physicians Amanda Harry in the U.K. and Nina Pierpont in the U.S., is now looking into the low-frequency noise and infrasound produced by industrial wind turbines, to determine whether they, too, can cause such vibroacoustic disease (VAD). Alves-Pereira's initial assessment, based on noise measurements taken inside and outside the homes of wind turbine neighbors, is that turbines are indeed a likely cause of VAD.

It was Alves-Pereira's initial research, published in numerous scientific journals, which prompted the French National Academy of Medicine, earlier this month (March 2006), to call on the French government to stop all wind turbine construction within 1.5 km of people's homes. You should understand that VAD is well established in the clinical literature; it is not conjectured. It has been amply documented and is readily detected by a variety of diagnostic tests.

The question remains: Do wind turbines also produce VAD in people living nearby? Again, France's National Academy of Medicine was sufficiently persuaded by the evidence that it called for an immediate minimum 1.5 km (approx. 1 mile) setback of all pending and future industrial windmills from residences. In conversations with Drs. Pierpont and Harry, Alves-Pereira indicates that she is very concerned about the possible role of turbines as a source of VAD.

[update: Alves-Pereira and her colleague Nuna Castelo Branco issued a press release on March 31, 2007, describing the results of their studies demonstrating "that wind turbines in the proximity of residential areas produce acoustical environments that can lead to the development of VAD in nearby home-dwellers." Read it at National Wind Watch.]

wind power, wind energy, wind farms, wind turbines, environment, environmentalism