Forget the sugar folks. Three in my tea please! A recent study has come out with the conclusion that Noise makes you fat. There is nearly a centimetre increase for every ten-decibel rise in the noise levels. Is that why the most obese people live in cities? And I thought it was Big Macs and daytime television! Seriously though this study from Imperial College, London, does raise serious concerns, not lost on those suffering noise ‘pollution’ from wind turbines. Although the target of this study is urban, there is a fundamental difference in that the background noise from wind turbines issues is usually very low. That suggests that the often lower figures from wind farms are as debilitating as those higher, 50-60 decibels, experienced in cities and around airports. There was another radio program recently that identified the fact that neurones are the bodies receptors to noise. In many circumstances they can blanket the noise after a short while as the body adapts to it’s environment. Walk into a noisy room and you can’t here what anyone is saying but after a few minutes we adapt and can hold a conversation. This adaption though can increase our stress levels and tire us more quickly. Just because we adapt to the noise does not mean it is not affecting our bodies. The School of Public Health at Imperial College London found that being exposed to higher levels of aircraft noise around Heathrow raised the risk of admission to hospital for heart disease by 20 percent, and yet people think they have learnt to live with it. We have variances with families with one partner badly affected and the other oblivious to any noise. What we should be asking is, are the impacts on health the same or different. We might find the answer is disturbing. So far the BMA, which has just moved it’s investments from fossil fuel to renewables, and the Government have chosen not to properly fund research into these issues. As well as the more obvious noise we have to address those low frequency, low level infrasound which has been known for years can have serious impacts on the human body. That is why they were used as a form of torture. What is unsettling is that noise pollution can affect you without you even consciously hearing it. Changes in noise, change of wind direction, a turbine starting may not wake us but our natural instincts, back from Stone Age man, causes the heart rate to increase, the blood to thicken and induces stress. Our fight or flight reaction to danger. I think a noticeable question on why you can live with a baby crying; most women would tell you even that has limits; the loud music of a disco or the health debilitating issue of wind farms can be identified as “nuisance noise” – you don’t seek it out or enjoy it. Now the question you all want answered. Can I blame the wind turbine noise on my expanding waistline? Last month, scientists from Karolinska University found an even more dramatic effect from plane noise. After tracking more than 5 000 people for ten years, they reported that the waistlines of those most exposed to plane noise increased on average by 6cm. Well over the last ten years it would be difficult to blame that on the noise but what is a fact is that stress induces comfort eating. A piece of chocolate makes you feel better ( a bar makes you feel sick!). So on that report I would suggest a certain caution. But hey, if the excuse works for you! What is pretty obvious though is that noise that causes sleep deprivation, also causes health issues. The decibel levels linked to health problems such as cardiovascular disease, Type 2 Diabetes and risk of hypertension don’t seem too high but do affect heart rate and stress, especially when intermittent, as experienced from Turbines. Many turbine related health issues are stress related and dismissed by the industry as psychosomatic. What we never chose was to have wind farms foisted upon us so the issue of “nuisance noise” is exceedingly relevant.
At this time the health implications of noise, be they psychosomatic or not, are not adequately addressed in planning. The industry statement that no proof of health issues exists is patently inaccurate and out of date. The first report on health implication goes back to a US study in 1987 and various peer reviewed studies have been released since them. Why do the politicians, councillors, planners and many in the Medial profession adopt such an ostrich like demeanour. One day this may well bite them on the backside with numerous class actions for literally billions of pounds in damages because they never followed the precautionary principle! Perhaps one day soon those no win no fee adverts on TV will be all about “Are you affected by a Wind Farm?” Phone us and collect £zillions.