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On the biological plausibility of Wind Turbine Syndrome

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An emerging environmental health issue relates to potential ill-effects of wind turbine noise. There have been numerous suggestions that the low-frequency acoustic components in wind turbine signals can cause symptoms associated with vestibular system disorders, namely vertigo, nausea, and nystagmus. This constellation of symptoms has been labeled as Wind Turbine Syndrome, and has been identified in case studies of individuals living close to wind farms. This review discusses whether it is biologically plausible for the turbine noise to stimulate the vestibular parts of the inner ear and, by extension, cause Wind Turbine Syndrome. We consider the sound levels that can activate the semicircular canals or otolith end organs in normal subjects, as well as in those with preexisting conditions known to lower vestibular threshold to sound stimulation.
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Keywords: Tullio phenomenon; Wind Turbine Syndrome; infrasound; superior semi-circular canal dehiscence; vestibular evoked myogenic potentials (VEMP); vestibular function

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, The University of Toronto, Program in Neuroscience and Mental Health, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

Publication date: September 3, 2015

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