Dr. Bruce Rapley response to Australian Medical Association

Dr. Bruce Rapley filed this response letter with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) objecting to the AMA's position on wind turbine noise that the "available Australian and international evidence does not support the view that the infrasound or low frequency sound generated by wind farms, as they are currently regulated in Australia, causes adverse health effects on populations residing in their vicinity." The concluding paragraphs of the letter are posted below. The full letter can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.


Being a medical practitioner does not grant licence to pontification on other disciplines. Medical Practitioners have a unique place in society and that very position is put in serious jeopardy when organisations purporting to represent the body of members come out with public statements so biased and lacking in fundamental rigour that it brings the whole profession into question. Simply put: “A cobbler should stick to his last, a tailor should stick to his thread”.

I speak with some authority on these matters as I have been a scientist for some years, having a bachelors degree in biological science, a masterate in technology and a PhD in acoustics and human health. Indeed my PhD thesis focussed on the physical measurement and consequences of low frequency sound within the working environment. Further, I have spearheaded a 15 year development project resulting in a new pc-based technology for environmental sound monitoring and analysis. This technology was recently extended to include vibration and exogenous radiation.

Through the use of this technology I have been able to observe and analyse first-hand, the occurrence of, and human effects of, noise and vibration in the work environment of soldiers. Evaluation included audiometric analysis, whereby I also spearheaded a new automated screening audiometer for use in high noise environments in the field, and psychological assessment of cognition and mood. The results of my work are embargoed for military reasons. However, I can say that sound, particularly low frequency sound, is responsible for many physiological and psychological manifestations that can seriously affect human performance and cognition.

The obviously biased statements made by your organisation regarding the impact of wind turbines on human health are an insult to my work and insulting to science as a whole. To misrepresent the physical situation and to shift blame to the mind-state of affected individuals is to abdicate your responsibility as physicians. Further, it degrades the concept and professional esteem of medical practitioners, mocking the patient who makes genuine complaint. This can only be seen to erode the patient-doctor relationship and as such is surely a serious threat in its own right to the practice of medicine and the promotion of public health.

I urge you and your colleagues to rethink your position with all due speed. Simply put: do not comment on areas beyond your own boundaries of knowledge. Do not tell half-truths, present commercially biased information in the name of health care and stop lying directly and by omission to your patients and the public at large. This matter needs to be urgently addressed to minimise the fallout and retain the respectability that the practice of medicine deserves and the good name of your organisation.

Rapley Ltr

Download file (312 KB) pdf

MAR 28 2014
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