Two Acousticians succumb to Wind Turbine Syndrome (MA)

Apr 23, 2011

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“Now we know personally, viscerally, what people have been telling us!”

From:  Robert W. Rand, Rand Acoustics
To:  Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD
Date:  4-20-11
Regarding:  My experience with WTS


Robert Rand

I just got back from a several-day wind turbine noise survey with my long-time colleague, Steve Ambrose—like me, a Member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering.

I’m writing to let you know that we both experienced adverse medical effects in the vicinity of the turbine under survey (one industrial wind turbine) under strong wind conditions aloft. Nausea, loss of appetite, vertigo, dizziness, inability to concentrate, an overwhelming desire to get outside, and anxiety.

The distance was approximately 1700 feet, in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

We obtained relief, repeatedly, by going several miles away.

I will be looking very carefully at the data and recordings acquired at this site to correlate with the experience. Short story is—and I reserve the right to revise any comments here as I learn more—it matches the Pedersen & Waye 2004 curve, where the annoyance ramps up quickly above 32 dBA.

That curve hides the real story, however. The A-weighted level doesn’t track the experience at all. I know! Steve and I sat for hours on Monday, comparing what we were feeling and what our meters were displaying. The dBA doesn’t work at all. So we have a complete disconnect between medical impact and regulatory framework.

Don’t count on dBC either.

I think that this impact could be related to how the ear is pumped by the repetitive pressure in a quiet rural background, or indoors. In Hull, Massachusetts, the background is high (Ldn60) and the two industrial turbines there don’t raise appeals to stop the noise, or even any complaints to speak of, at the same or closer distances than I was at this last week.

I hypothesize that if the ear is working at a low background level, different things happen in the auditory and vestibular system than when the ear is working at higher sound levels. (Wish I had more training in neurobiology!)

Many have been affected by wind turbine noise here in Maine and elsewhere, and we have listened to a number tell of their symptoms and problems with wind turbines. We have determined the potential for community noise impact of wind turbines in rural areas and published our findings.

However, the symptoms we experienced on this trip were unexpected for us. We have been surveying other wind turbine sites over the last 15 months and have not experienced these effects. (We each have over thirty years of experience in general and industrial acoustics, and have evaluated just about every kind of noise source—and noise level—imaginable.) I repeat, this is the first time I have experienced these symptoms simply by being near a noise source.

However, I see this as a gift. We are experienced acousticians who work from the neighbor’s perspective. Now we know personally, viscerally, what people have been telling us! We must now include ourselves in the percentage of the population that can experience significant and debilitating adverse health effects from the acoustic energy emitted by wind turbines.

Large industrial wind turbines must be considered seriously as capable of creating an adverse health effect within a certain distance with a dose-response or threshold relationship that varies with the individual.

If you have any questions or would like to talk about what we experienced, please contact me at your convenience.

  1. Comment by Steve K (Connecticut) on 07/10/2011 at 6:14 pm

    Would be very interested to discuss another ILFN (Infrasound & Low Frequency Noise) study field, which is afflicitng us in Western Connecticut with in-house HUM. Has to do with ground-born ILFN from major changes in the natural gas pipelines in the region (and widespread in the the USA, Canada, and elsewhere).

    Also, would like to discuss theory how this could be the root cause (or a major contributor) to the bee CCD, bat disaster going on in the eastern USA and possible other weird disasters.

    We also have new 10,000 HP gas-fired turbines, thanks to the gas pipeline companies, where the burner flutter actually made our First Selectman’s wife ill when I had them over to witness the 2 problems here.

  2. Comment by Karin Green on 08/28/2011 at 2:36 pm

    You say, “Wish I had more training in neurobiology!”

    Yes, don’t we all! The harmful effects of wind farms are not about “noise”; they are about “sound”! Sound at all frequencies and most harmful are those the human ear cannot hear!

    Much research already exists on the effects of ultra sounds on human and animal cell structure, particularly red blood cells! Why is nobody looking at what is already known, especially those of you who claim to be able to assess the adequate safety standards for the menace of wind farms?

  3. Comment by Anonymous on 10/16/2011 at 4:06 am

    I work in a building that is very close to one of the Falmouth turbines (less than 1,000 feet away). For the past four weeks I’ve been experiencing vertigo, even while I’m at home away from the turbine. If I move my head to look up or down, I have to grab onto something or I’ll fall down. If I turn over in bed at night, the room spins for about a minute. I’ve never experienced anything like this before, so I was searching for information on it when I discovered it may be related to the turbine.
    .
    bass drum
    .
    There is a constant, deep thumping vibration coming from the turbine. It’s hard to describe, but it can be felt in the way you feel the thump of a large drum during a parade. I’m not a person who has ever been bothered by motion sickness or seasickness. I do not have an ear infection or suffer from migraines.

    Editor’s reply: My friend, you have classic Wind Turbine Syndrome. You need to read Nina Pierpont’s book. Failing that, you need to read the handful of articles listed under “What is WTS?

    Nina will be in Falmouth this coming Saturday, October 22nd, to interview more Falmouth WTS victims—people like you. If you would like to meet with her while she’s in town, email me at rushton@twcny.rr.com.

    I’m sorry this is happening to you. By the way, Nina is in Boston right now, and will be there for the week. She’s there in part to meet with Harvard Medical School clinicians at the Mass. Eye and Ear Institute to discuss Wind Turbine Syndrome, hoping to devise a means of clinically measuring what is, in fact, happening to your inner ear (vestibular organs) from that turbine.

  4. Comment by Jen on 12/11/2011 at 10:57 pm

    Can anyone please email me what the minimum levels of both dBA and dBC,[ eg – 50 dBA and 60 dBC] are when WTS starts to affect some people; also, the average levels for this, plus what are the levels when some people are severely affected to the point of abandoning homes etc.
    Or point me to websites with this.
    Thanks, Jen.

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