The proponents and paid representatives of the wind industry are fond of stating that there is no peer-reviewed science proving turbines cause health problems.
Such statements remind me of tobacco industry representatives in business suits lighting up cigarettes at board meetings stating the same line!
Haven’t we learned our lesson the hard way already? As a starter, read the peer-reviewed scientific paper put out by the World Health Organization in 2009 called “Night Noise Guidelines for Europe,” which addresses sleep deprivation and other harmful effects of nighttime noise.
It is time for the wind industry to support the expenses of providing peer-reviewed, scientific proof that there is no such harm – and they shouldn’t be choosing the ones doing the study.
NASA has been studying low-frequency sound. Medical acousticians are also doing studies. It takes time to gather all the anecdotal evidence and perform the lengthy scientific processes. Recall how Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases were identified? It was by observation, through anecdotal evidence from physicians’ patients suffering after tick bites. The evidence started there, with patients and physicians.
Just as in medicine the rule is to “first do no harm,” the wind industry should not be erecting wind turbines in populated areas until all the data are in. Siting of industrial-size turbines in and near neighborhoods has potential of doing harm to those at risk. So don’t permit it.
Some places are just not good industrial wind turbine sites – such as 2,300 feet from a nursing home and assisted living center (as in Brewster). Under the guidelines approved for the region by the Cape Cod Commission and the Assembly of Delegates, some towns are just not good spaces for industrial-size turbines.
As for those who attest to having visited turbines and not heard anything, they should realize it depends upon the amount and direction of the wind, the speed and height of low-frequency sounds, ambient noise, the time of day, etc. And remember, it may be different inside the home!
And residents in different areas may have varied tolerance for ambient noise. Hull, for example, home to two large-scale wind turbines, is located five miles from Logan International Airport and under flight paths. Hull has a dense urban population of more than 3,431 persons per square mile, with 3 square miles of land and more than 20 square miles of water on a peninsula. Ambient noise there is very different than in rural Brewster, where the population density is 427 per square mile and land area is 23 square miles, with approximately 3 square miles of water.
Then add the potential vibrations and sensations of the wind turbines – low frequency at high speeds – and you have double trouble. The New York Times’ City Critic Ariel Kaminer examined a similar phenomenon in a Feb. 25 piece titled “The New Police Siren: You’ll Feel It Coming.” Her report on the NYPD’s adoption of “the Rumbler” said the new siren’s low-frequency tone “penetrates hard surfaces like car doors and windows.”
Joyce P. McConnell lives in Brewster.
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