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Turbine Sound, Audible and Low Frequency, Needs Testing

May 21, 2012

David Abel’s May 21, 2012 Boston Globe article “Wind turbine noise is targeted in Mass” describes the noise issue raised when the MassDEP found one of three Falmouth turbines exceeded acceptable levels. Abel writes:

The state might also conduct sound studies in other communities, such as Fairhaven and Kingston, where residents, as in Falmouth, have complained about newly installed turbines, officials said.

Studies of places where residents have reported health impacts are long overdue. But it is not enough to model or test audible sound. “I think it’s a great idea that all wind turbines are tested before they’re built or permitted,’’ said Eleanor Tillinghast, a steering committee member of Windwise Massachusetts, which has opposed wind projects around the state.”

“The problem is that the state’s testing doesn’t capture the infrasound, what you can’t hear, which is what’s affecting the body.’’

Tillinghast and other wind power critics say churning turbines and resulting flickering light and vibrations from infrasound – low-frequency sound waves below the range of human hearing – can produce dizziness, nausea, depression, or anxiety, a set of symptoms they call “wind turbine syndrome.’’

Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts issued a press release noting the many individuals in communities all over the state who have experienced disturbances related to turbines in their vicinities.

Abel also interviewed John Methia, whose home in Fairhaven is located about 2,000 feet from two 1.5-megawatt turbines just started up this month. “The sound is pretty much unbearable,’’ he said.

“The siting of these things in residential neighborhoods is absolutely ridiculous,’’ he said. “I found it reassuring what the state did in Falmouth; I hope they’ll do the same kind of testing here.’’

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