Excessive exposure to infrasound and low frequency noise (ILFN, defined as all acoustical phenomena occurring at or below the frequency bands of 500 Hz) can cause vibroacoustic disease (VAD).
Research into VAD has been ongoing since 1980, conducted by a multidisciplinary team of scientists and led by pathologist Nuno Castelo Branco, MD.
In March 2007, and for the first time, the Portuguese National Center for Occupational Diseases attributed 100% professional disability to a 40-year-old flight attendant who had been diagnosed with VAD since 2001. Two other VAD patients have also been attributed a similar disability status.
Initially, only ILFN-rich occupational environments were investigated. However, over the past several years, many individuals and their families have approached our team because of the ILFN contaminant in their homes. The sources of residential ILFN vary from industrial complexes, to large volume highways, to public transportation systems, etc.
In a case study published in Proceedings of Internoise 2004 (a annual scientific meeting dedicated to all aspects of acoustics), one of the first documented cases of environmental VAD was reported in a family of four, exposed to the ILFN produced by a port grain terminal.
Over the past three years, several families have contacted this team complaining of noise caused by the proximity of industrial wind turbines (windmills). However, only within this past month has this team obtained detailed acoustical measurements within a home surrounded by 4, recently installed industrial windmills.
This acoustical data was essential in order to compare in-home, windmill-produced acoustical environments with the residential, ILFN-rich environments that are known to be conducive to VAD.
The levels of ILFN inside the windmill-surrounded home are larger than those obtained in the home contaminated by the port grain terminal.
The scientific report will be formally presented at Internoise 2007, to be held on 28-31 August in Istanbul, Turkey.
These results irrefutably demonstrate that windmills in the proximity of residential areas produce acoustical environments that can lead to the development of VAD in the nearby home-dwellers.
In order to protect Public Health, ILFN-producing devices must not be placed in locations that will contaminate residential areas with this agent of disease.
Mariana Alves-Pereira, PhD
School of Health Sciences (ERISA), Lusofona University Portugal Department of Environmental Sciences & Engineering, New University of Lisbon Portugal
Nuno Castelo Branco, MD
Surgical Pathologist President, Scientific Board Center for Human Performance (CPH)
The Center for Human Performance is a civilian, non-profit organization dedicated to research in vibro-acoustic disease. CPH was founded in 1992 has been the organization which coordinates all the different teams that work on vibro-acoustic disease research, and that include (in Portugal) the cardiology and pulmonary departments of the Cascais Hospital, the neurophysiology department of the National Institute of Cancer, the department of human genetics of the National Institute of Public Health, the department of speech pathology of the School of Health Sciences of the Polytechnical Institute of Setúbal, among several others over the past 25 years.
Contact: Professor Alves-Pereira, firstname.lastname@example.org
 Castelo Branco NAA, Alves-Pereira M. (2004) Vibroacoustic disease. Noise & Health 2004; 6(23): 3-20.
 Castelo Branco NAA, Araujo A., Joanaz de Melo J, Alves-Pereira M. (2004) Vibroacoustic disease in a 10-year-old male. Proc. Internoise 2004, Prague, Czech Republic, August 22-25, 2004: No. 634 (7 pages).