Responding to the letter by John Carlton-Foss in the December 4 edition, I must say that his so-called research process puzzles me when he stated, “Whether they actually hear the turbine” and “there are no jet engines in anyone’s driveway, and so we must view the complaints and assertions with skepticism.”
We all know that the level of noise is dependent on several factors, including the type of wind turbine, distance from the turbine, intervening structures, the existing background sound levels, wind speed and direction, topography, and meteorological conditions. I am not a scientist, yet over the last two years, I have been able to find several substantial peer-reviewed research papers by well-known scientists concerning the wind turbine health effects from infrasound, which is inaudible. Beyond the auditory threshold, low frequency sound is more annoying than that at higher frequencies. It also travels long distances farther than higher frequency sound and penetrates structures such as homes. Low frequency noise can create indoor noise problems such as perceptible vibration and rattle.
One Falmouth parent said her child said the walls were wiggling. When a family member has to resort to sleeping in the basement of his/her home instead of the bedroom, why is there reason to be skeptical and dismiss the person merely as a complainer, as Mr. Carlton-Foss does? When suicide becomes an issue, again, no skepticism should exist. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of “health” states, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-be-ing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” and, “the extent to which an individual or a group is able, on the one hand, to realize aspirations and to satisfy needs, and on the other, to change or cope with the environment” (WHO, 1999).
Concerns of individuals who are in close proximity to wind turbine installations have included nausea, vertigo, tinnitus, heart palpitations, stress, blood pressure spikes, sleep disturbance and annoyance resulting from the noise, which also includes infrasound, that wind turbines produce (Harry, 2007; Pierpont, 2009; Krogh, 2011).
These concerns have come from people living too close to wind turbines worldwide, not just here in Falmouth. The Australian Senate’s Community Affairs Reference Committee of the Social and Economic Impact of Rural Wind Farms accomplished an important study in June 2011. The research of the effects of Low frequency noise level was especially important. What resulted was the recommendation that adequate mandatory setbacks and rigorous enforcement of maximum noise standards be put in place to reduce the adverse impacts on properties and citizens in close proximity to wind turbines. The recommendation was a minimum setback of two kilometers, or 20 times the maximum height, including blades, of wind turbines to the nearest dwelling. This would be a desirable first step. (Australian Federal Senate Wind Farms report June 2011, Recommendation 2, 2.60, P.19)
At the 2011 Division of Fluid Dynamics of the American Physical Society in Baltimore, I listened to many scientists who gave sessions about the pressure from the wakes of industrial-size wind turbines. Our neighbors, who incidentally were supportive of wind turbines prior to their installation, discovered after the fact that their health suddenly became negatively affected. It was an affront and an insult by Mr. Carlton-Foss to once again disparage the truth- fulness of so many of the people who are members of this community, people who I know to have integrity and values.
Going back three years ago, I found it interesting that the municipal “by right bylaw” listed a long list of uses, yet there was a completely separate bylaw for windmills, in which a special permit was required. It is unfortunate that the windmill bylaw was not used. Even then people in other parts of our country and the world were experiencing negative effects, as one could easily research. We can all have our own individual opinion about the wind turbine effects on our wind turbine neighbors.
Until Mr. Carlton-Foss walks in their shoes, tries to live in their homes, work and play in their yards outside over a pre-determined amount of time, I hope that he and others will have a more appropriate response to what Mr. Carlton-Foss has. We certainly should not view their complaints and assertions with skepticism.
Town Meeting Member
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