James, R. Warning Signs That Were Not Heard
Wind Turbine Infra and Low-Frequency Sound: Warning Signs That Were Not Heard
Richard R. James
Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 2012 32(2) 108 – 127
Industrial wind turbines are frequenty thought of as benign. However, the literature is reporting adverse health effects associated with the implementation of industrial-scale wind developments. This article explores the historical evidence about what was known regarding infra and low-frequency sound from wind turbines and other noise sources during the period from the 1970s through the end of the 1990s. This exploration has been accomplished through references, personal interviews and communications, and other available documentation. The application of past knowledge could improve the current siting of industrial wind turbines and avoid potential risks to health.
Over the past 20 or so years, the wind industry has presented evidence implying that industrial-scale wind turbines are safe near people’s homes. Yet reports of high levels of annoyance, sleep disturbance, and body/vestibular responses have been received from people living within 2 or more kilometers of wind turbines located in countries around the world. Is it possible that these adverse effects could have been foreseen by those who manufacture and/or install and operate industrial scale wind turbine utilities in quiet rural/residential communities?
This article reviews some of the history and early research regarding infra and low-frequency sound. This is not an exhaustive review. It explores what was known about infra and low-frequency sound from wind turbines and other noise sources during the period from the 1970s through the end of the 1990s.
The work of three groups of acoustical researchers provides valuable historical research relating to human response to low levels of infra and low-frequency noise. Their work will be referenced throughout this article to provide historical context.