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Experts worldwide critique “expert panel” report

March 19, 2012

Dr. Mariana Alves-Pereira integrates a multidisciplinary research team investigating biological responses to infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN) exposures, and is currently assistant coordinator of the team. As an international expert in vibroacoustic disease (VAD) and on cellular responses to ILFN exposures, she evaluated the Panel’s work in relation to health effects.

Dr. Alves-Pereira shows that the panel had difficulty understanding the nature of ILFN and vibration as they pertain to human health, saying “After several readings of this Report, it would seem that the Panel has, at times, misunderstood the distinction between noise and vibration where human health is concerned…” She also believes Panel could have looked at other sources of scientific information, including conference proceedings.

The panel’s charge was nearly impossible, she says:  “In a way, this Panel was charged with the task of rolling loaded dice.”
“The health impacts on populations living in the vicinity of WT are, simply put, not documented.  Health impacts are not scientifically evaluated through questionnaires and surveys. Instead, objective clinical data are required which, in this case, do not exist.”

Most importantly, Dr. Alves-Pereira explains that where human health is concerned, Infrasound and low frequency noise are airborne acoustical phenomena” and are distinct from vibrations which require a physical coupling to the vibrating structure. Furthermore, she says, “Infrasound is internationally classified as non-ionizing radiation.”

Lessons learned with VAD bring the possibility of objective clinical data being gathered among populations residing in the vicinity of WT. Moreover, if the agent of disease responsible for the development of VAD in occupational environments had been more thoroughly explored (and understood) perhaps the “Panel’s efforts (…) to examine the biological plausibility or basis for the health effects of turbines” (p.ES-3) would have been greatly improved.

As many others have commented in public hearings and written submissions, more study–and the right kind of study–is needed. Dr. Alves-Pereira asserts

The authorities who requested this Report (MassDEP and MDPH) will most likely not find it very useful if their priority is the health of populations living near WT. However, if other agendas exist, this Report may become relevant.

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