Salt, A.N. Lichtenhan, J.T. How Does Wind Turbine Noise Affect People?

Acoustics Today — Winter 2014
Alec N. Salt, Jeffery T. Lichtenhan

Department of Otolaryngology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO USA

The many ways by which unheard infrasound and low-frequency sound from wind turbines could distress people living nearby are described.

The essence of the current debate is that on one hand you have the well-funded wind industry 1) advocating that infrasound be ignored because the measured levels are below the threshold of human hearing, allowing noise levels to be adequately documented through A-weighted sound measurements, 2) dismissing the possibility that any variants of wind turbine syndrome exist (Pierpont 2009) even when physicians (e.g. Steven D. Rauch, M.D. at Harvard Medical School) cannot otherwise explain some patients’ symptoms, and 3) arguing that it is unnecessary to separate wind turbines and homes based on prevailing sound levels.

On the other hand you have many people who claim to be so distressed by the effects of wind-turbine noise that they cannot tolerate living in their homes. Some move away, either at financial loss or bought-out by the turbine operators. Others live with the discomfort, often requiring medical therapies to deal with their symptoms. Some, even members of the same family, may be unaffected.

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