Acoustics Australia

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 69–86 | Cite as

A Review of Wind Turbine-Generated Infrasound: Source, Measurement and Effect on Health

  • Renzo ToninEmail author
Original Paper


Some people who reside in proximity to wind turbines complain of a range of adverse health impacts. These include tinnitus, raised blood pressure, heart palpitations, tachycardia, stress, anxiety, vertigo, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, headaches, ear pressure, exacerbated migraine disorders, motion sensitivity, inner ear damage and sleep deprivation. This article begins with a historical review of prognoses such as Vibroacoustic Disease and Wind Turbine Syndrome which were proposed to explain the reported health symptoms and the hypothesised link to the emission of infrasound from wind turbines. A review of noise measurements at wind turbine sites conducted by various investigators shows that the level of infrasound is below the threshold of hearing. Notwithstanding, others postulate that stimulation by infrasound of the otolith organs causes nauseogenic symptoms or that stimulation of the outer hair cells, which are said to be particularly sensitive to infrasound frequencies, explains the symptoms. A review of social surveys is undertaken of self-reported health effects attributable to wind turbine noise, including the effects of sleep disturbance. A description is finally provided of physical exploration studies which subject participants to infrasound and measure their response.


Wind farm Wind turbine noise Infrasound Health impacts Nauseogenic symptoms 



The author declares no funding was provided in respect of the preparation of this article and the author has no association with any wind farm proponents.


  1. 1.
    The Senate Select Committee on Wind Turbines Final Report, Aug 2015.
  2. 2.
    2016 Annual Report of the National Wind Farm Commissioner, 31 Mar 2017.
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
    Tonin, R.: Quiet road pavements: design and measurement—state of the art. Acoust. Aust. 44, 235–247 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wind Turbines and Health. A rapid review of the evidence. National Health and Medical Research Council, July 2010.
  6. 6.
    Council of Canadian Academies: Understanding the evidence: wind turbine noise. The Expert Panel on Wind Turbine Noise and Human Health, Council of Canadian Academies, Ottawa, ON, 2015.
  7. 7.
  8. 8.
    Hansen, C.H.: Collateral Damage, Engineering Ethics and Wind Farms. Editorial SV Magazine, April (2016)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Cooper, S.: Wind farm noise—an ethical dilemma for the australian acoustical society. Acoust. Aust. 40, 139–143 (2012)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
  11. 11.
    Minister Approved Statewide Wind Farms Development Plan Amendment. Gazetted, 18 Oct 2012.
  12. 12.
    Wind Energy Guideline For State significant wind energy development. NSW Government Department of Planning and Environment, Dec 2016.
  13. 13.
    Kelley, N.D., McKenna, H.E., Hemphill, R.R., Etter, C.L., Garrelts, R.L., Linn, N.C.: Acoustic Noise Associated with the MOD-1 Wind Turbine: Its Source, Impact, and Control. U.S. Department of Energy. Solar Energy Research Institute, Feb 1985.
  14. 14.
    Branco, N.A.A.C., Alves-Pereira, A.M.: Vibroacoustic disease. Noise Health 6(23), 3–20 (2004)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Alves-Pereira, A.M., Branco, N.A.A.C.: Vibroacoustic disease: biological effects of infrasound and low-frequency noise explained by mechanotransduction cellular signalling. Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 93, 256–279 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Alves-Pereira, A.M., Branco, N.A.A.C.: Public health and noise exposure: the importance of low frequency noise. Inter-noise 2007, Istanbul, Turkey, 28–31 Aug 2007Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Alves-Pereira, A.M., Branco, N.A.A.C.: In-home wind turbine noise is conducive to vibroacoustic disease. In: Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Lyon, France, 20–21 Sept 2007Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Waubra Wind Farm Planning Permit Call Ins. Application Nos 05/0150 and 05/0152. Panel Report, Mar 2005.
  19. 19.
    Van den Berg, F.: The sounds of high winds. Thesis, May 2006.
  20. 20.
    The Measurement of Low Frequency Noise at Three UK Wind Farms. Hayes Mckenzie Partnership Ltd. Department of Trade and Industry (2006).
  21. 21.
    Pierpont, N.: Wind Turbine Syndrome. K-Selected Books, Santa Fe (2009)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Tonin, R.: Sources of wind turbine noise and sound propagation. Acoust. Aust. 4(1) (2012)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Oerlemans, S., Lopez, B.M.: Localisation and quantification of noise sources on a wind turbine. In: First International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Berlin 17–18 Oct 2005Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Doolan, C.: Wind turbine noise mechanisms and some concepts for its control. In: Proceedings of Acoustics (2011)Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Oerlemans, S., Sijtsma, P., López, B.M.: Location and quantification of noise sources on a wind turbine. J. Sound Vib. 299, 869–883 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Bullmore, A., Jiggins, M., Cand, M., Smith, M., Von-Hunerbein, S.: Wind turbine amplitude modulation: research to improve understanding as to its cause and effect. In: Fourth International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Rome, Italy, 12–14 Apr 2011Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Bertagnolio, F., Madsen, H.A., Fishcer, A., Bak, C.: Experimental characterization of stall noise toward its modelling. In: 6th International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise, Glasgow, 20–23 Apr 2015Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Oerlemans, S., Schepers, G.: Prediction of wind turbine noise and comparison to experiment. In: Second International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Lyon, France, 20–21 Sept 2007Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Jakobsen, J.: Infrasound emission from wind turbines. J. Low Freq. Noise Vib. Act. Control 24(3), 145–155 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hansen, K., Zajamsek, B., Hansen, C.H.: Evaluation of secondary windshield designs for outdoor measurement of low frequency noise and infrasound. In: 5th International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise, Denver, 28–30 Aug 2013Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Tachibana, H., Fukushima, A., Ochiai, H.: Modelling of house filter for wind turbine noise. In: 6th International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise, Glasgow, Apr 2015Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    The results of an Acoustic Testing Program: Cape bridgewater wind farm. The Acoustic Group, 26 Nov 2014.
  33. 33.
    Zajamsek, B., Hansen, K., Doolan, C.J., Hansen, C.H.: Characterisation of wind farm infrasound and low-frequency noise. J. Sound Vib. 370, 176–190 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Rao, B.K.N.: Infrasonic noise inside road vehicles and its effect on people. Shock Vib. Dig. 7(4), 65–69 (1975)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Moller, H., Pedersen, C.S.: Hearing at low and infrasonic frequencies. Noise Health 23(6), 37–57 (2004)Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Watanabe, T., Moller, H.: Low frequency hearing thresholds in pressure field and in free field. J. Low Freq. Noise Vib. 9(3), 106–115 (1990)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    ISO 226:2003 Acoustics—Normal equal-loudness-level contoursGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    ISO 7196:1995 Acoustics—frequency-weighting characteristic for infrasound measurementsGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Turnbull, C.P., Turner, J.P.: Measurement of infrasound from wind farms and other sources. In: Fourth International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Rome, Italy, 12–14 April 2011Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Walker, B., Hessler, G.F., Hessler, D.M., Rand, R., Schomer, P.A.: Cooperative Measurement survey and analysis of low frequency and infrasound at the shirley wind farm in Brown County, Wisconsin. Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (2012).
  41. 41.
    Waterloo Wind Farm: Environmental noise study. South Australian Environment Protection Authority (2013).
  42. 42.
    Tachibana, H., Hiroo, Y., Fukushima, A.: Assessment of wind turbine noise in immission areas. In: 5th International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise, Denver, 28–30 Aug 2013Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Moorhouse, A.T., Waddington, D.C., Adams, M.D.: A procedure for the assessment of low frequency noise complaints. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 126(3), 1131–1141 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Bell, A.: Constructive interference of tonal infrasound from synchronised wind farm turbines: evidence and implications. Acoust. Aust. 42(3), 212–218 (2014)Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Leventhall, G.: Infrasound rumbles on. Acoust. Bull. 38(2) (2013)Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Hartman, R.S.: The adverse health impacts of industrial wind turbines: a scientific response to “it’s all in your head”, 5 Apr 2013.
  47. 47.
    Evans, T., Cooper, J., Lenchine, V.: Infrasound levels near windfarms and in other environments. South Australia Environmental Protection Authority (2013).
  48. 48.
    Infrasound measurements from wind farms and other sources. Sonus, Nov 2010.
  49. 49.
    Stead, M., Cooper, J., Evans, T.: Comparison of infrasound measured at people’s ears when walking to that measured near wind farms. Acoust. Aust. 42(3), 197–203 (2014)Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Leventhall, G.: Infrasound and the ear. In: 5th International Conference on Wind Turbine Noise, Denver, 28–30 Aug 2013Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Salt, A.N.: Letter to Chairman of Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants, 18 Sept 2013.
  52. 52.
    Schomer, P.D., Erdreich, J., Pamidighantam, P.K., Boyle, J.H.: A theory to explain some physiological effects of the infrasonic emissions at some wind farm sites. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 137(3), 1356–1365 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Salt, A.N., Lichtenhan, J.T.: How does wind turbine noise affect people? Acoust. Today 10(1) (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Brownell, W.E.: What is electromotility?—the history of its discovery and its relevance to acoustics. Acoust. Today 13(1) (2017)Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Bolin, K., Bluhm, G., Eriksson, G., Nilsson, M.E.: Infrasound and low frequency noise from wind turbines: exposure and health effects. Environ. Res. Lett. 6, 035103 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Van den Berg, F.: An overview of residential health effects in relation to wind turbine noise. In: Fourth International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Rome, Italy 12–14 Apr 2011Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Pedersen, E.: Health aspects associated with wind turbine noise—results from three field studies. Noise Control Eng. J. 59(1), 47–53 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Shepherd, D., McBride, D., Welch, D., Dirks, K.N., Hill, E.M.: Evaluating the impact of wind turbine noise on health-related quality of life. Noise Health 13(54), 333–339 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Nissenbaum, M.A., Aramini, J.J., Hanning, C.D.: Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health. Noise Health 14(60), 237–243 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Kuwano, S., Yano, T., Kageyama, T., Sueoka, S., Tachibana, H.: Social survey on wind turbine noise in Japan. Noise Control Eng. J. 62(6), 503–520 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Schomer, P., Fidell, S.: Introductory remarks for special issue on wind turbine noise. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 139(3), 1430 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Crichton, F., Dodd, G., Schmid, G., Gamble, G., Petrie, K.J.: Can expectations produce symptoms from infrasound associated with wind turbines. Health Psychol. 33(4), 360–364 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Crichton, F., Dodd, G., Schmid, G., Gamble, G., Petrie, K.J.: The power of positive and negative expectations to influence reported symptoms and mood during exposure to wind farm sound. Health Psychol. 33(12), 1588–1592 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Tonin, R., Brett, J., Colagiuri, B.: The effect of infrasound and negative expectations to adverse pathological symptoms from wind farms. J. Low Freq. Noise Vib. Act. Control 35(1), 77–90 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Australian Acoustical Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Renzo Tonin & Associates (NSW) Pty LtdSurry HillsAustralia

Personalised recommendations