The Long Term Effects of LFN Exposure

Long term exposure to low frequency noise (LFN), which includes the inaudible range below 20Hz called infrasound, is known to cause extremely serious illness known as Vibroacoustic disease (VAD). Industrial wind turbines are known to emit intense sound waves across the LFN spectrum, as well as accompanying vibrations when sound energy strikes a solid object such as a building. After prolonged exposure to LFN, many of the most serious consequences of this disease are irreversible.

Much of what is known about VAD has been learned by two doctors, Castello Branco and Alves Pereira at the Center for Human Performance, University of Lisbon. Additional studies which support their findings were inspired by the work. Together, Castello Branco and Alves Pereira have conducted the longest and most comprehensive studies of LFN on human health in the world. At the request of the Portuguese Air Force, they studied pilots and aviation mechanics that are constantly exposed to intense LFN. As such, it is important to realize that their patients began their careers at the peak of health and physical conditioning.

In 2004, these doctors published some of their findings to date, stating “Vibroacoustic disease (VAD) is a whole-body, systemic pathology, characterized by the abnormal proliferation of extra-cellular matrices, and caused by excessive exposure to low frequency noise (LFN)…. In both human and animal models, LFN exposure causes thickening of cardiovascular structures. Indeed, pericardial thickening with no inflammatory process, and in the absence of diastolic dysfunction, is the hallmark of VAD. Depressions, increased irritability and aggressiveness, a tendency for isolation, and decreased cognitive skills are all part of the clinical picture of VAD.” To decode this a bit, LFN caused damage to the heart and major blood vessels, as well as serious mental health symptoms. Be sure to note that they use the term ‘cause’ instead of saying ‘associated with’.

Perhaps even more importantly, they state that “LFN is a demonstrated genotoxic agent, inducing an increased frequency of sister chromatid exchanges in both human and animal models.” Again, to decode, LFN disrupts the normal cellular operations of both human and animals at its most basic level –the genetic level. That is why its effects are considered a whole body, systemic pathology. VAD can affect any organ in the human body. These doctors were able to directly observe dysplastic effects, the remnants of cells which had their cell walls literally exploded like little water balloons by LFN, pouring their still living organelles (cell organs) into the blood and tissue of the body.

In medical terms, genotoxins are separated into three main groups: carcinogens, mutagens, and teratogens, i.e. those that cause cancer, genetic mutations, or birth defects, respectively. Prolonged exposure to LFN, however, is known to cause all three. Castello Branco and Alves Pereira found increased incidence of auto-immune diseases such as Lupus, as well as malignant tumors, late-onset epilepsy, squamous cell carcinomas in the respiratory tract, heart disease and breathing disorders among their study group over the course of 10 years. They also found vitiligo (loss of skin pigmentation) and a host of neurological disorders such as vertigo (dizziness), nausea, disequilibrium (loss of balance), depression, diminished cognitive capability and archaic palmo-mental reflex. The latter, sometimes referred to as the Snout Reflex, is considered by neurologists to be a clear sign of underlying brain damage.

The pervasive and diverse effects of VAD make it extremely difficult to diagnose. It is often misdiagnosed partly because most doctors lack the training to ask patients about exposure to LFN; and partly because patients themselves lack awareness of LFN sources in their own environment. Indeed, in its earlier stages, VAD is often ignored or dismissed as mere malingering or hypochondria. The individual factors or conditions that make some people more susceptible to the most severe forms of VAD have not been identified, but only about 30% of those exposed exhibit no symptoms at all. Yet, approximately 5% of occupationally LFN-exposed individuals develop pathologies severe enough to require early disability retirement (Castelo Branco 1999).

We still lack precise knowledge about how much exposure to LFN causes VAD or how long it takes to develop stage III symptoms. However, I know how we can find out. Let’s build some massive industrial machines that produce intense LFN continuously, and place them in a densely populated residential neighborhood for 20 years and see how long it takes residents to develop VAD.

Wait, I just remembered, Jeffrey Osuch, Charlie Murphy, Michael Sylvia and Brian Bowcock will implement this brilliant experiment in Little Bay on April 22nd.  Apparently, they chose Earth Day to emphasize the total lack of any consideration for human beings. Who can compete with such genius?

Curt Devlin, Fairhaven, MA

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