“We experienced nausea, headache, vertigo, inability to concentrate,” testifies acoustician (Maine)

Jul 13, 2011


Editor’s note
:  The following was submitted as testimony to the State of Maine Board of Environmental Protection, 7/7/11, by  acoustician Robert Rand.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today as a Maine resident.

My name is Robert Rand.  I am a resident of Brunswick (Maine), and a member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering (INCE). I have over thirty years of experience in general and applied acoustics, including ten years’ work on power plant noise control engineering in the Noise Control Group at Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation in Boston.

The story I relate today really happened.

I have conducted a number of independent wind turbine noise surveys in the last eighteen months in Maine and elsewhere, without ill effects. However in April 2011 I was unpleasantly surprised while on a wind turbine noise survey with my long-time colleague Stephen Ambrose, also a Member of INCE, where, indoors, variously we experienced nausea, loss of appetite, headache, vertigo, dizziness, inability to concentrate, an overwhelming desire to get outside, and anxiety, over a two-night period from Sunday April 17 to Tuesday April 19. It was a miserable and unnerving experience.

During the most adverse effects, the A-weighted sound level outdoors was at or above 42 dBA, and indoors at 18 to 20 dBA, due to the home’s solid construction. The dBA levels indoors were found to be completely unrelated to the adverse effects.

Adverse effects occurred indoors and outdoors when the infrasonic noise level was over 60 dBG, and the adverse health effects were absent when the wind turbine was idle and the infrasonic noise level was under 60 dBG.

It is worth noting that Dr. Alec Salt identified 60 dBG as the inner ear infrasonic sensitivity threshold in 2010. Thus this experience in April was consistent with Dr. Salt’s findings that the inner ear responds to infrasonic noise above 60 dBG.

The distance was approximately 1700 feet from a single 1.65 MW industrial wind turbine.

The owners who built this home for retirement are reluctantly preparing to abandon the home.

We obtained some relief during the survey, repeatedly, by going several miles away.

It took me a week or more to recover. I experienced recurring eye strain, nausea, sensitivity to low frequency noises, and reduced ability to work on the computer for several weeks.

The adverse health effects I experienced are similar to those reported by neighbors living near wind turbines in Maine and elsewhere. They are not addressed by the regulatory framework in place. I have not seen any consideration by wind facility applicants of potential adverse health effects or community reactions.

I now know personally and viscerally what people have been complaining about. Adverse health effects from wind turbines are real and can be debilitating. The field work points directly to wind turbine low-frequency noise pulsations, especially indoors, as a causative factor. I want all Mainers to be protected from these serious and debilitating health effects.

I welcome and urge your support of the Proposed Amendments to the Dept. of Environmental Protection Noise Rule for wind turbine projects.

Robert W. Rand, INCE
65 Mere Point Road
Brunswick, Maine 04011

Tel: 207-632-1215


  1. Comment by alice barnett (Maine) on 07/13/2011 at 3:11 pm

    A residence, 1700 feet from a turbine, should not be allowed in today’s permitting process. Mr. Rand verifies a study finding of a peer. Sixty (60) dBG is threshold of human inner ear.

  2. Comment by preston mcclanahan (Rhode Island) on 07/14/2011 at 2:03 pm


    Look at first line, 4th paragraph: it misleads the reader into thinking that the wind plant sites that you visited before the one in Maine did not pose any problems at all. Although I know what you intended that these earlier visits were not first-hand looks altogether.

    The sentence as written could be used by the pro-wind people in their favor.

    What to do? I’d write a rebut.


  3. Comment by Wanda (Australia) on 07/16/2011 at 6:30 am

    I live in the small town of Waterloo, Australia. My house is in a direct line of a 130 meter-high wind turbine
    (distance about 1.5k m). There are 37 wind turbines alongside of our town, where 90% of the people living here are experiencing the same symptoms that you are describing.

    Nine residents have left their homes already. Then there are residents who go away every so often
    just to get a good night sleep. And then there are the ones who cannot afford to leave town—and they are suffering badly.

    Because we are such a small town (around 30 people), no one in authority cares.

    We are not against wind farms. We are against them being built any closer than a minimum of 10 km from any town.



  4. Comment by Sue Hobart (Mass.) on 07/16/2011 at 10:35 am

    I am the house discussed in this article … and in the process of selling off my home-based business stuff. Attempting to find homes to adopt my 6 acres of beautiful plants and trees I grew myself, dismantling my life and getting out of here….

    I am sleeping in the middle of the basement in the dark (with mice, though we tried to get them out) and live in one of the prettiest towns anywhere. I paid heavily to live here and worked since I was 12.

    I pay $3800 a year in taxes to this godforsaken town, and they let this happen to me and don’t care.

    The developer makes 2 or 3 grand a DAY and got it paid for by govt. grants….He lives waterfront in a 2.4 million dollar home and sails on weekends.

    When my neighbor called to tell him his 4-year-old’s room was too loud to read a bedtime story, he was told to eat shit!

    This chorus is very very loud and perfectly synced…but big money is louder….There is no justice…only big money.

    My life will never be the same….I used to be a generous, sweet, nice person—and now all I do is hate….No longer worth the effort in any way…

    The other side cannot come fast enough…

  5. Comment by Hube (France) on 12/18/2011 at 6:06 pm

    Hello, Sue. Dismantling lives, that’s what they do, you’re right. What you wrote up there is happening to me and I just wanted to send you nice and supportive thoughts, from another IWT guinea pig, far far away from you, in a small village in France, but in the middle of the same kind of daily… nightmare (days and nights, indeed).

    What they’re taking away from you is not just a place, a house or this kind of thing. That alone is a crime, though. But turning a generous, sweet, nice person into someone who hates? That’s the crime, the ultimate crime. That hate: it’s not yours, it doesn’t come from you. It comes from them, but it’s for you to carry. That’s murder without apparent killing. The hell with them.

  6. Comment by Marie on 01/16/2012 at 4:42 am

    Maybe the previous visited sited were where small turbines were located and maybe the latest site was with much larger turbines and maybe a few more than previous. Anyone who thinks that turbines do not cause a health issue itseems that not everyone is affected and some more than others. I am fighting a proposed 44 x 150 meter high turbine complex after all they are not windmills and there is too much evidence they can and do cause problems including animals.

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