Category Archives: world Health Organization

The Ultimate Insult

Barbara Ashbee’s home

On August 24, 2016, Barbara Ashbee from Ontario wrote to Marie-Eve Héroux, member of the panel developing the WHO Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region:


Dear Mme. Héroux,

My name is Barbara Ashbee.

I live in Mulmur, Dufferin County, Ontario and I am writing to submit information on wind turbine noise in our communities to include in your research.

An industrial wind turbine installation had serious impact on our family personally and many others in our neighbourhood, our province, country and globally.

I have met with many impacted families here in Ontario and have corresponded with others out of province. I didn’t know any of these people before the effects of wind turbines changed our lives.

In 2008/2009 my husband and I both had our health seriously impacted after a turbine project started up around our home. The adverse health effects started petty much right away.

We had loud cyclical noise and a vibration and humming in our house that made sleep impossible, ongoing, multiple nights in a row. I had no idea how serious and dangerous sleep deprivation was until I experienced it first-hand. Due to ongoing exposure to the emissions from the turbines our health declined to the point that we had to leave our home.

My husband and I were both healthy and happy adults. We took no medications and we enjoyed life and our work outside the home. We had purchased our bungalow 3 years before the turbine project was built and had done a lot of updating with plans for it to be our retirement home. We were building my husband’s new garage/workshop at the same time the turbines were being built. We had no idea that they were going to cause us problems as we had not heard of any issues from the first phase that was erected in 2006. I was taking photos and sharing them with my family as the project was erected. In fact when one of our neighbours came to us in 2006 and asked if we would have any concerns with them putting one on their property we said of course not.

We were not anti-turbine or anti-wind and we had not been informed by anyone that there were problems.

barb ashbeeWe were harmed by these wind turbines surrounding us and even as we had engineering noise reports showing out of compliance cyclical noise, a vibration and infrasound measured inside of our home and dirty electricity our government continued to tell us that the wind company was running in compliance and there was nothing they could do. Only after our pleas to our government and attempts to have the noise and vibration problems corrected did we find out that there had been many families before us that had been billeted, bought out by the developer, or forced to move because they couldn’t take living in their homes anymore.

Along with sleep deprivation we experienced headaches, stomach aches, episodes of dizziness, nausea, impaired cognitive and memory function, heart palpitations and chest pressure, infection requiring antibiotics, pressure in the head and ears, a bleeding nose that required liquid nitrogen treatment, and just before we moved out of our home my husband was diagnosed with hyper thyroidism, something he had never had before. We knew what was causing it and informed his specialist. He was not put on any medication and after we moved his levels returned to normal and he has not had an issue since.

Being exposed to the cyclical noise, the low frequency noise and infrasound left us physically ill and with no resolution offered and no ability to shut the turbines off, we were completely disempowered. Unable to have the problems fixed and unable to stay in the home we loved has been very distressing. The realization that our lives were deemed worthless by authorities was hard to take.

Our pets were also affected with one dog in particular whimpering and crying when the conditions were the worst. They were at times antsy, restless and bothered, sometimes crying, sometimes going from room to room. It was not normal behaviour. It was heartbreaking and so we started to look for a place to move. We asked locally about renting a mobile home to park on our driveway to get out of our house. We were not successful. We moved our bed into our detached garage but the noise and vibration was no better. We started to make inquiries about renting another house but with three dogs and 2 cats it was not easy and it is extremely hard to leave everything we had knowing that if they would just shut the project off we could at least get some sleep. We kept hoping a solution was around the corner. We just kept trying to resolve it.

An attempt by the wind company was made to move us to a property that they had purchased one concession over from us but it was rank with mold so we had to abort that. In the end we purchased a tent and we moved our bed, a night table, a lamp and a heater out into the tent and spent our remaining days on our property sleeping outside. The vibration was not as bad as it was in the house and they had agreed to shut 5 surrounding turbines down. While it was pretty cold some nights, it was better than in our house. Our pets slept outside with us.

I am quite confident you will hear the word torturous from other impacted people and I can attest to the fact that description nails it. To be deprived of sleep, with no power to shut the noise or vibration off, to have your health decline from the impacts of the noise, infrasound and vibration in the sanctity of your own home, the very place you normally turn for restorative sleep and relaxation is pure torture. It is unbearable. It is spirit crushing and heartbreaking.

The ultimate insult of having gone through this, to having fought for our home and lost, to losing faith and trust in any authority that we thought was concerned about people’s health and wellness, is to have it happen to even more families in our area and globally because it continues.

Were you to meet any of these families, the small children, the seniors, teens, it doesn’t matter age, gender, race, religion or economic background, if you could meet with these people and listen to them, it would be a huge step in understanding. Please, as you consider the research, the academic input, the physicians, acousticians and others who are giving you information, please also talk to the people. Talk to the ones who have been harmed. Talk with the families who have first-hand experience. You will find their personal accounts and symptoms are the same regardless of what country they come from or what language they speak.

I am appealing to you to investigate fully and to order turbines cease operation until the people have had a genuine hearing of their complaints. Nobody consented to having their lives so negatively impacted. This is clearly a case of terribly flawed policy trumping health and wellness.

It should never have happened.

– Attached is a compilation of statements from wind turbine affected families in Ontario that were drawn from early news reports, personal comments from meetings and testimony from different communities in Ontario. This compilation is a number of years old now and represents a small snapshot of affected families. The purpose for compiling it was to inform our government that the complaints are the same and that they are growing. Hundreds more turbines have been built since and every project has additional impacted families. Not only did early turbine projects cause harm but the newer turbines are much larger and yet the setbacks remain the same.
Wind Turbine Impacts in Ontario – A small collection of testimony

– Attached is a copy of my deputation to the standing committee on the Ontario Green Energy and Economy Act from 2009.
Committee Transcripts: Standing Committee on General Government – April 15, 2009 – Bill 150, Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009

– I am attaching an abatement plan, drawn up by Ministry of Environment field officers in our area that ultimately never made it to the public. It was shelved by authorities.
The officers acknowledged and reported on many occasions that they knew people were being harmed and that it was not trivial but nothing happened to help the people they were trying to help.
FOI_P00_03046_11.12 02.pdf

– I am attaching a summary of related research compiled by Canadian independent researcher Carmen Krogh.
A summary of some of the peer reviewed articles and conference papers, abstracts and other citations, regarding impairment of health in general and relating to industrial wind turbines

– I am providing a link to WindVoice an early self-reporting survey conducted in Ontario.

– This is a link to where testimony, video statements, and interviews of impacted people can be found. Much of this info is found on websites as no ministry or agency in any level of government in Canada has gathered or reviewed the complaints.

In the past 8 years since this happened to us, I could supply reams of letters, documents and testimony all supporting the need for an investigation and for the turbine projects to cease operating so innocent families can live in their own homes and try to recuperate from the turbine emissions that harm them.

The people living among these wind power centers need relief.

That these projects are allowed to continue to operate where complaints, illness and home abandonment have been made is cruel and inhumane.

Please keep me posted on your progress with your research and please contact me if I can help in any way. I am pleading with great urgency that you please help those who are being impacted right now.

With respect,

Barbara Ashbee

International Appeal to WHO

download (4)The battle to protect health, our homes and environment knows no border, as renewable energy projects powered by wind globally continue to generate reports of harm.   The WHO is currently reviewing its  European noise guidelines and will include consideration of noise from wind turbines.  Signatories from around the world are calling for careful review of these standards and are uniting those who are demanding protection and prevention of harm to health.

The international letter has been signed by health professionals, researchers and concerned individuals from around the world including Dr Robert McMurtry and Carmen Krogh of Canada, Dr Sarah Laurie of Australia, Dr Alun Evans of Scotland, and acoustician Jerry Punch of the United States, among many others.  Wind Concerns Ontario has signed on behalf of its membership and has sent in a prior letter of comment to the WHO.

The campaign has been picked up by the media in the UK such as the article in the Press and Journal published on July 21, 2016



Environmental Noise & Sleep

Environmental noise and sleep disturbances: A threat to health?


Environmental noise, especially that caused by transportation means, is viewed as a significant cause of sleep disturbances. Poor sleep causes endocrine and metabolic measurable perturbations and is associated with a number of cardiometabolic, psychiatric and social negative outcomes both in adults and children. Nocturnal environmental noise also provokes measurable biological changes in the form of a stress response, and clearly affects sleep architecture, as well as subjective sleep quality. These sleep perturbations are similar in their nature to those observed in endogenous sleep disorders. Apart from these measurable effects and the subjective feeling of disturbed sleep, people who struggle with nocturnal environmental noise often also suffer the next day from daytime sleepiness and tiredness, annoyance, mood changes as well as decreased well-being and cognitive performance. But there is also emerging evidence that these short-term effects of environmental noise, particularly when the exposure is nocturnal, may be followed by long-term adverse cardiometabolic outcomes. Nocturnal environmental noise may be the most worrying form of noise pollution in terms of its health consequences because of its synergistic direct and indirect (through sleep disturbances acting as a mediator) influence on biological systems. Duration and quality of sleep should thus be regarded as risk factors or markers significantly influenced by the environment and possibly amenable to modification through both education and counseling as well as through measures of public health. One of the means that should be proposed is avoidance at all costs of sleep disruptions caused by environmental noise. house and wind turbine


  • Environmental noise;
  • Sleep disturbances;
  • Health outcomes




Negative health impact of noise from industrial wind turbines: How the ear and brain process infrasound

Author:  Punch, Jerry; and “James, Richard”>James, Richard

This article, the final of three installments, discusses the relationship between various health effects and our current understanding of the processing of infrasound by the ear and brain. [Part 1: Some Background; Part 2: The Evidence.]

As noted in the second installment of this series, Dr. Geoff Leventhall, a co-author of the 2009 AWEA/CanWEA report, attributes the health complaints of people who live near industrial wind turbines (IWTs) to psychological stress, but does not acknowledge that IWTs can be detrimental to health because infrasound and low-frequency noise (ILFN) emitted by wind turbines are largely inaudible to humans. He stands on the argument, therefore, that what we can’t hear can’t hurt us.

We know that things we cannot see, touch, taste, or smell can hurtus, so why is it unreasonable also to believe that what we can’t hear might also hurt us?

Dr. Nina Pierpont, in describing Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS), has expressed her belief that many of the symptoms comprising WTS are mediated by overstimulation of the vestibular system of the inner ear by ILFN. Recent evidence supports the general view that the functioning of both the vestibular and cochlear components of the inner ear, and their interconnections with the brain, mediate the type of symptoms that Pierpont and others have described.


Industrial-scale wind turbines generate peak sound pressure levels at infrasonic frequencies, especially between 0.25 and 3 Hz, as the blades pass in front of the tower. Most of us do not experience the energy in this lowest of low-frequency regions as sound; instead, we perceive a variety of other sensations. When present, infrasound can be more of a problem than audible sound.

Recent basic research on the inner ear conducted by Dr. Alec Salt and colleagues at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has provided a feasible and coherent explanation of how sound that is normally not audible can result in the kinds of negative reactions reported by people who are exposed to wind turbine noise. That research has shown that extremely low-frequency sound is largely inaudible to humans because the outer hair cells (OHCs) in the inner ear detect and effectively cancel it before it reaches the inner hair cells (IHCs). The IHC stereocilia, which do not contact the tectorial membrane, are fluid-coupled and sensitive to stimulus velocity, while the OHC stereocilia are sensitive to displacement. IHCs rapidly become less sensitive as stimulus frequency is lowered.

Cross-section of the cochlea (left), with illustration of IHCs and OHCs (right). Used by permission of Alec Salt, Washington University School of Medicine.
Cross-section of the cochlea (left), with illustration of IHCs and OHCs (right). Used by permission of Alec Salt, Washington University School of Medicine.

Readers familiar with the anatomy of the ear know that approximately 95% of the fibers innervating the IHCs lead to the brain as afferent fibers, while only about 5% of the fibers innervating the OHCs are afferent fibers. Thus, we hear through our IHCs, and our hearing sensitivity is comparable to the calculated IHC sensitivity. The OHCs, which respond physiologically to infrasound, serve as a pathway for infrasound to reach the brain. Infrasonic signals that reach the brain are normally not perceived as sound, but are believed to stimulate centers other than auditory centers, resulting in perceptions that may be unfamiliar and disturbing.

Similar pathways to various centers of the brain also exist through the vestibular, or balance, mechanisms of the inner ear, meaning that it is biologically plausible for infrasound to produce the variety of sensations described by Pierpont, sensations such as pulsation, annoyance, stress, panic, ear pressure or fullness, unsteadiness, vertigo, nausea, tinnitus, general discomfort, memory loss, and disturbed sleep.

Salt and colleagues have also found that when higher-pitched sounds (150-1500 Hz) are present, they can suppress infrasound. This means that the ear is most sensitive to infrasound when higher-frequency sounds are absent. This occurs at night when wind turbine noise is present, ambient sound levels are low, and higher-pitched sounds are attenuated by walls and other physical structures.

As utility-scale wind turbines increase in size and power, the blade-pass frequency goes increasingly deeper into the nauseogenic zone.
As utility-scale wind turbines increase in size and power, the blade-pass frequency goes increasingly deeper into the nauseogenic zone.

Another relatively recent discovery is that there is likely a cause-effect relationship between AHEs and ILFN that mirrors that occurring in motion sickness. An experiment in the late 1980s, conducted using training-mission scenarios with Navy pilots, showed that motion sickness was associated with significant amounts of acoustic energy inside the flight cabin over the frequency range from just under 1 Hz to as low as 0.05 Hz (the nauseogenic range). Maximum sensitivity occurred at approximately 0.2 Hz. That experiment resulted in the conclusion that flight simulator sickness may be, to a significant extent, a function of exposure to infrasonic frequencies. This phenomenon is akin to seasickness, except that the acoustic energy causes nausea without body movement or visual stimulation.
wind noise

Dr. Paul Schomer, nationally and internationally known for his work in acoustics and acoustic-standards development, has suggested that because the Navy test subjects responded to acoustical/vibratory energy with symptoms similar to motion sickness, many of the similar symptoms reported by people living near IWTs can be explained by exposure to infrasound from wind turbines at frequencies similar to those observed in the Navy’s test environment. Persons affected by wind turbine noise appear to be responding directly to acoustic stimulation of the same nerves and organs affected in that experimental environment.


These research efforts of Salt and colleagues, Schomer, and others are leading the way in establishing the biological plausibility of the harmful effects of ILFN generated by wind turbines.

Dr. Salt dismisses the common perception that what we can’t hear can’t hurt us and has stated unequivocally that “Wind turbines can be hazardous to human health.”

Decisions regarding the siting of industrial wind turbines deserve careful attention to limiting noise exposure levels in community residents through specified restrictions on either distance or noise levels, or both. The right of the public to enjoy health and well-being should be paramount to the economic and political interests of the wind industry and governmental bodies. These rights need to be protected on a proactive, and not just on a retroactive, basis. Industrial-scale wind turbines should be sited only at distances from residents that are sufficient to minimize sleep disturbance and that do not put them at risk for a variety of other serious health problems.

Jerry Punch is an audiologist and professor emeritus at Michigan State University in the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. Since his retirement in 2011, he has become actively involved as a private audiological consultant in areas related to his long-standing interest in community noise.

Richard James is an acoustical consultant with over 40 years of experience in industrial noise measurement and control. He served as an adjunct instructor in Michigan State University’s Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders from 1985-2013 and currently serves as an adjunct professor in Central Michigan University’s Department of Communication Disorders.

[Originally published at Hearing Health & Technology Matters, Nov. 18, 2014]

Continue reading Negative health impact of noise from industrial wind turbines: How the ear and brain process infrasound

Press Release: WAIT-PW Comments on Turbine Health Study

Press Release:

Health Canada’s Wind Turbine Noise and Health Study: Summary of Results 1

Summary Statements [1]  regarding the above study were released this past week by Health  Canada; however, the study itself was not released.

Health Canada’s summary report on wind turbine noise and health confusing

Media timing issues relating to summary report release and issues with CANWEA press  release

Some summary statements indicate no association between wind turbine noise and health

Some summary statements appear to indicate an association between wind turbine noise and health

Reports immediately following Health Canada’s press advisory state no problems with wind  turbines

No peer reviewed study results released – caution advised in interpretation of summary  statements

Summary report statements appear “rushed” given no study or peer reviewed study available

Children, Noise, Annoyance, Respiratory Effects, World Health Organization