OPINION: Health experts refute claims

There are indications of a lack of evidence of sound and health problems at wind farms.
There are indications of a lack of evidence of sound and health problems at wind farms.

A professor has responded to a recent story which indicated a lack of evidence of sound and health problems at wind farms. Wellington has wind farms proposed for Bodangora and on the boundaries of Lake Burrendong. 


Dear Sirs,

This letter is to express our deepest disappointment with the lack of objectivity in the recent report from the Victoria Department of Health “Wind Farms, Sound and Health: Technical Information”.

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”. Below we have provide citations to six publications from our group where we showed how the ear responds to low frequency sounds up to 50 decibels 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. The stimulation of human inner-ear sensory cells occurs by identical processes to those seen in commonly used laboratory mammals, so there is no evidence that humans are different from other mammals in this respect.

Indeed, to be technical, the observation that in humans the response to low frequency maskers changes phase by 90 degrees as frequency is lowered. (Zwicker, E., 1977. Masking-period patterns produced by very-low-frequency maskers and their possible relation to basilar-membrane displacement. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 61, 1031) is confirmation that the sensory cells of humans are responding in an identical  manner to the mammals that we, and others, have studied. It is highly irresponsible for a Health Department to state as a fact that low frequency sounds can have no physiological effects when publicly-available experimental results prove otherwise. The Health Department is failing to protect the public by their lack of objective and balanced review of the potential risks of low frequency noise.

We are truly sincere,

Alec N Salt, PhD. 

Jeffery T Lichtenhan, PhD