As wind projects continue to get planned throughout Germany, concerns over their effects on nature, wildlife and human health are growing more than ever.
The online Sächsische Zeitung (SZ – Saxony News) reports how one locality in Germany held a public forum on the subject of low-frequency infrasound earlier this year. Infrasound generated by wind turbines is low-frequency at a range that is not audible to the human ear (< 20 Hz), but the air pressure waves are in fact registered by the inner ear. For a fair amount of people these pulsing pressure changes can trigger a variety of physical discomforts, and over the long term to severe health risks, a growing body of literature shows.
The SZ writes that some 160 citizens showed up to get more information on the subject from 5 experts from the state, most of them there to downplay the health issues of infrasound from wind turbines.
For example, Andrea Bauerdorff of the Federal Ministry of Environment claimed that a health impact from infrasound “could not be expected according to the latest scientific knowledge“.
Physicist Bernhard Brenner of the Bavarian Ministry for Health and Food Safety claimed: “With pure infrasound there really is nothing to worry about“. But many in attendance weren’t buying it, as the SZ wrote that Brenner’s comments were met by “jeering laughter from the wind power opponents“.
Another state expert, psychologist Johannes Pohl, admitted that infrasound was a problem for a “tiny part of the population” (6 or 7 percent of those living close to wind turbines) but then blamed “psychological factors” for it.
Thankfully there was one expert who took a far more critical view: state physician Thomas Carl Stiller, who according to the SZ “received again and again applause from the win energy opponents“. Stiller noted that wind turbines posed “a risk of cancer from the carbon fibers in the event of a fire, social polarization, optical blight” and warned that humans are “not able to adapt to infrasound“. He told the audience that long-term infrasound was shown to cause damage to ears, lungs and heart in laboratory rats.
Did the information forum bring the opposing sides closer together? Not at all, the SZ writes, summarizing:
Citizens initiatives against wind energy doubted the studies and the intent of the scientists behind them, […]. One conclusion remained at the end that almost everyone could agree on: The literature is far to thin. Meanwhile the construction of wind energy will continue to be driven without obstruction.”