How can we as ordinary citizens know if the proposed Fairhaven wind turbines will be safe?
When I heard through the grapevine about the two wind turbines going up approximately 500 feet from where I rent a unit at the Fairhaven Business Bays on Arsene Street, I decided to look into the issue for myself.
I was not given any written notice by the town and I was not approached by anyone from any group either pro or con and the research I have done has been self-funded. I would describe myself as an ardent environmentalist deeply supportive of sustainable energy. What I have learned since I started doing my own research has caused me to align myself with those who are trying to stop the turbines from going up.
One thing I learned is that there is a lot of important new information that was simply not available when Fairhaven first made its decision to approve the wind turbines. This information comes to us from places as nearby as Falmouth, and as far away as Australia.
Experts in medicine, acoustics, public health, economics and engineering have published independently peer reviewed studies that directly contradict the studies funded either directly or indirectly by the wind industry that seek to minimize and dismiss people’s first-hand accounts. Moreover, there are many, many more first-hand accounts of ordinary citizens across the globe who experienced life altering health and economic symptoms when wind turbines went up near their homes.
For example, the entire August issue of The Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society directly addresses the health and safety issues relating to industrial wind farms sited close to homes. These include reports on wind turbine noise, public health, acoustics and infrasound. These articles were submitted to both the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Health in Fairhaven last week. They are worth reading.
The article titled Infrasound From Wind Turbines Could Affect Humans by Alex Salt and James Kaltenbach explains in some detail the physiologic pathways by which low frequency sound directly affects the human body. Wind turbines make a complex assortment of sounds and infrasound has historically been dismissed as unimportant by the wind industry.
As I was studying these articles, I received via email a study dated Dec. 14, 2011, titled the The Bruce McPherson Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise Study: Adverse Health Effects Produced By Large Industrial Wind Turbines Confirmed, authored by two highly respected acoustic noise control engineers, Stephen Ambrose and Robert Rand. This study builds upon Alex Salt’s work, but what makes this study so conclusive is that this study actually correlates scientifically measured low frequency sounds, wind turbine speeds, and the authors’ own physical experiences of said symptoms.
Both scientists started experiencing physiological symptoms within 20 minutes of entering the Falmouth home where they were measuring sounds for the study. They experienced headaches, nausea, dizziness, and had a difficult time performing their usual research the first day when symptoms were at their worst and wind speeds were at their highest. These observations confirm the first-hand accounts of our Falmouth neighbors who experienced the same symptoms. It turns out that low frequency sounds are actually amplified by our houses, which end up acting a bit like a drum. People experience actual pressure in the ears, head and chest, which is further worsened by dizziness, confusion and anxiety as the body seeks to balance and orient itself while receiving pressure pulses that distort the vestibular experience.
I strongly urge every Fairhaven citizen to obtain and read this study for themselves.
The authors concluded that infrasound from the turbines is the source for the reported physiological symptoms experienced by citizens in Falmouth. These are different and separate from noise complaints that deal with audible sound. Nausea, dizziness, lack of appetite, anxiety and headaches from this infrasound are further compounded by sleep disturbance, which stems from beta wave activity disturbance caused by the specific frequency of the pulsing sound of a turbine. The only good thing about these symptoms is that they tend to drive the owners to leave the area and thus prevent further damage to the ears, heart and brain.
Every one of us has made at least one decision in our lives based on the best information we had at the time that turned out later to be wrong. But if the Town of Fairhaven refuses to acknowledge new, scientific, and experiential evidence that is being made available to them before the turbines are constructed, it seems to me that we are opening ourselves up to the possibility of lawsuits against the town for negligence. And that might end up costing us a lot more than what the wind industry is promising us.
Solar is sounding better every day. Ask Dartmouth.
Louise Barteau lives in Fairhaven.
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