Noise and Health Concerns

Large wind turbines generate very low frequency sounds and infrasound (below 20 Hz) when the wind driving them is turbulent. The amount of infrasound depends on many factors, including the turbine manufacturer, wind speed, power output, local topography, and the presence of nearby turbines (increasing when the wake from one turbine enters the blades of another). The infrasound cannot be heard and is unrelated to the loudness of the sound that you hear. You cannot hear the infrasound at the levels generated by wind turbines, but your ears certainly detect and respond to it.

In fact, infrasound is a larger problem inside your home, because the audible sound of the turbines is blocked by the walls of the house, but infrasound readily passes through any tiny openings and causes your home to act as a resonator. When your ear is stimulated by the infrasound, it causes many problems, including among other things, sleep disturbance, panic, chronic sleep deprivation leading to blood pressure elevation, memory dysfunction, unsteadiness, dysequilibrium, vertigo, nausea, “seasickness”, tinnitus, sensation of pressure or fullness in the ear and more.

The wind energy industry is quite dismissive of claims that wind turbines cause health problems. But there are many reports of people boarding up their homes and leaving because they cannot stand living near the turbines anymore and they are unable to sell their property. In most cases, these residents report that their symptoms go away once they move away from the wind farms. In addition, there are many reports of adverse impacts on livestock and pets including birth defects in sheep, cows and chickens, as well as many side effects such as wool production, milk production and birthing periods often ending in spontaneous abortions. To date, there are few studies of infrasound. The wind energy has little or no interest in funding studies of this type and most individuals impacted by these turbines do not have the financial resources to fund studies of this magnitude.

Those who have studied infrasound believe that turbines need to be setback much greater distances from residences and property lines than many laws require. While those recommendations vary, almost all of them recommend setbacks exceeding 2 kilometers (approximately 1 ¼ miles) and most recommend setbacks of much greater distances to protect the health and safety of residents in the area. For an excellent discussion of infrasound by Richard James, an acoustician, go to this link. []

In addition to infrasound, the audible level of turbines is an important issue. The World Health Organization has recommended that the noise levels for turbines be less than 40 dB(A) of annual average outside of bedrooms to prevent adverse health effects from night noise. That number drops to 30 dB(A) for children. But the Town of Enfield’s law is 60 dB(A) and Black Oak’s turbines average around 45 dB(A) at the residence. These are not safe levels for the health of the residents of Enfield.

It is essential that Black Oak Wind Farm and the Town of Enfield address any potential health effects to the residents of Enfield before this project is finally approved.