Push Made for Wider Study of Turbine Noise in Kingston

Neighbors concerned the work will be done by agency whose focus is the promotion and development of renewable-energy projects.  Subsequent testing at night by environmental officials showed one turbine exceeded state maximum noise level.  [ more ]

Wind Energy, Noise Pollution

A recent article in the National Review questions the rush of politicians to embrace the wind energy business. In doing so, they are ignoring the families forced to abandon their homes due to unbearable low frequency noise.  [ more ]

BMJ: Wind Turbine Noise Affects Health Adversely

An editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) cites a large body of evidence that finds wind turbines disturb sleep and impair health.  The authors call for independent research and review of existing evidence, to establish noise guidelines.  [ more ]

Wind Turbines and Proximity to Homes:  The Impact of Wind Turbine Noise on Health

Barbara J. Frey, BA, MA University of Minnesota and Peter J. Hadden, BSc, FRICS, have recently published (January 2012) a review of the literature and prepared an unbiased summary of current evidence regarding the impact of low frequency vibrations on people who live in close proximity (within 2 miles) of wind turbines.  [ more ]

Acoustic Engineer Responds to Massachusetts Wind Turbine Noise Study

Rick James, acoustic engineer, cites many case studies that refute the findings of the Massachusetts Wind Turbine Noise Study.  He concludes that a 1.25 mile minimum setback is necessary to protect the majority of people who live in close proximity of proposed turbine sites.  [ more ]

Understanding Infrasound

In this 27 minute video presentation, Curt Devlin reviews several studies that document the low frequency infrasound produced by industrial wind turbines, and how the infrasound effects the brain.  [ watch ]

Studies Find Low Frequency Noise to Cause Adverse Health Effects

A compilation of independent studies published in March 2011 cites significant evidence of the link between low frequency noise, such as that produced by wind turbines, and adverse health effects. The World Health Organization advises that “Health effects due to low-frequency components in noise are estimated to be more severe than for community noises in general … the evidence on low-frequency noise is sufficiently strong to warrant immediate concern.”  [ download ]

Living in a Power Station

This video highlights the problems caused when wind turbines are constructed too close to residential homes.  It records the effects of noise and shadow flicker on homes sited within 3,000 feet (950 meters or 0.6 mile) of wind turbines.  [ watch ]

Bourne adopts wind turbine health regulation

Recognizing that wind turbines pose a health hazard to the public, the Board of Health in Bourne, MA, recently adopted a regulation that sets limits on the amount of noise measured at the nearest property line.  [ more ]

State agrees to study Falmouth turbine noise

Low-frequency sound waves and other effects from the town-owned wind turbine have caused headaches, dizziness, vertigo and other health problems reported by nearby residents in Falmouth. In response, the state Department of Environmental Protection plans to collect data on noise created by the turbine. The town of Falmouth already faces bills for studies in decommissioning the turbines, sound-proofing neighboring houses, and other mitigation options, which would cost up to $44,000. [ more ]

Proposed wind turbine for Winter Island raises noise concerns and adverse health issues

Residents of Salem are concerned about Mayor Kim Driscoll’s recently announced plan to construct a 400-foot tall industrial wind turbine on the shore of Winter Island.  This small land mass located at the tip of Salem harbor, is adjacent to densely populated family neighborhoods, including Juniper Point and the Willows.

Seemingly at odds with the City’s master plan to develop the public park and campground on Winter Island as a family-friendly recreational area, the proposed turbine will be located on the water’s edge adjacent to the Harbormaster’s Office.  Due to its close proximity to the shore of Marblehead, less than one-half mile across the harbor, many residents in both communities are concerned about the noise and health hazards associated with wind turbines.  Adverse affects from the noise are well documented.  To mitigate the impact, industry experts call for turbines to be placed 1.25 miles away from the nearest residence.

When sited too close to residential homes, the inhabitants are barraged with constant noise, flickering light, and sweeping shadows from the turning blades.  There are documented health risks of sleep deprivation, headache, nausea and ear pressure issues for people within 1.25 miles of the turbine.  Home values in this area are likely to drop by 25 to 40 percent.

Despite these concerns, the project appears to be fast-tracked, with applications already submitted to Mass Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and Mass Energy Consumer’s Alliance (MECA) for $1.1 million in state grant money to offset some of the $4.2 million anticipated cost.  The Mayor announced that she hopes to have the wind turbine in operation by the Fall of 2012.

At almost three times the height of the 150 foot IBEW turbine sited alongside the Southeast Expressway, this large-scale 1.5 megawatt industrial turbine is expected to generate $167,000 in annual net revenue for the first 20 years, after operating costs and debt-service expense.  If Salem receives $1.1 million in state funding, the net revenue will increase to $254,000 annually.

The cost of the wind turbine in terms of quality of life, for the families living in close proximity, may be immeasurable.


Map of 1.25 miles area around industrial wind turbine affected by noise.

Listen to the wind turbine

Click on the video above to listen to the same type of industrial wind turbine the City of Salem’s Mayor wants to fast track installation on Winter Island.

Marblehead neighbors oppose wind turbine noise

While it’s laudable that Salem is pursuing green energy sources, it is distressing to know that noise from the turbine will adversely impact surrounding neighborhoods.  And with the turbine located in Salem, many are not aware that the noise will have an impact on Marblehead neighborhoods as well.

Wind turbines create noise.  Salem planners expect a noise level of 53 decibels at the base of the turbine in mild wind conditions. That’s a loud noise running day and night.  With the turbine located on the water’s edge, Marblehead residents will suffer the constant churning and thumping noise of the turbine around the clock.  Neighborhoods from Village Street, along West Shore Drive out to Grace Oliver’s Beach; as well as inland to Redd’s Pond, all fall within the 1.25 mile area likely be affected by the noise.

Those who live on the coast know that sound travels across the water without buffer.

Many proponents of green energy are disappointed to learn how disruptive the noise can be from wind turbines; but it is well documented.  In Falmouth, residents have been so adversely affected by their wind turbine noise that the town now limits its operation.  Residents of Vinalhaven, Maine, including those who were initial supporters of the turbine, have filed a lawsuit because of the noise that disrupts their sleep.

Wind power is great – but turbines need to be in the right place – not imbedded in a quiet residential area where people have invested in their property and their lives.  Home values within a mile of a turbine are likely to drop by 25 to 40 percent.  Families shouldn’t have to take a loss so that our communities can enjoy wind power.  The right solution is to locate wind turbines more than 1.5 miles away from residences.

One such success is in Ipswich, where a wind turbine was placed in a salt marsh 1.6 miles away from residences.  The Cape Wind turbines are 6 miles offshore from Cotuit and 14 miles off Nantucket, sparing residents from adverse health effects caused by the noise.

Salem should modify their plan and site the wind turbine offshore, away from residences, so that everyone can enjoy the benefit of clean, wind generated power.

Letter submitted by Pat Pollard, published in the Marblehead Reporter on 8/25/11.

For those near, the miserable hum of clean energy

October 5, 2010, New York Times
Families who live within a mile of wind turbines have “learned the hard way that wind power — a clean alternative to electricity from fossil fuels — is not without emissions of its own.  Lawsuits and complaints about turbine noise, vibrations and subsequent lost property value have cropped up in Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, among other states.” [ more ]

Wind turbine noise, an independent assessment

Written by Stephen Ambrose and Robert Rand, members of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering. First published by the Herald Gazette, September 10, 2010. Concerned about the negative comments from residents living near wind turbines and the lack of regulatory action to address the adverse health impacts from wind turbine noise, they launched their own evaluation and came to the following conclusions.

Wind turbines larger than one megawatt of rated power have become an unexpected surprise for many nearby residents by being much louder than expected. The sounds produced by blades, gearing, and generator are significantly louder and more noticeable as wind turbine size increases. Long blades create a distinctive aerodynamic sound as air shears off the trailing edge and tip. The sound character varies from a “whoosh” at low wind speeds to “a jet plane that never lands” at moderate and higher wind speeds. Blade-induced air vortices spinning off the tip may produce an audible “thump” as each blade sweeps past the mast. Thumping can become more pronounced at distance, described as “sneakers in a dryer,” when sounds from multiple turbines arrive at a listener’s position simultaneously.

Wind turbines are not synchronized and so thumps may arrive together or separately, creating an unpredictable or chaotic acoustic pattern. The sounds of large industrial wind turbines have been documented as clearly audible for miles. They are intrusive sounds that are uncharacteristic of a natural soundscape.

Studies have shown that people respond to changes in sound level and sound character in a predictable manner. A noticeable change in sound level of 5 decibels (dB) may result in “no response” to “sporadic complaints.” An increase of 10 dB may yield “widespread complaints,”; a 15 dB increase “threats of legal action.”

The strongest negative community response occurs with an increase of 20 dB or more, resulting in “vigorous objections.” Audible tones, variability in sound level, and an unnatural sound character can amplify the public response. For a distinctive or unpleasant sound, a small change in sound level, or the sound simply being audible, may provoke a strong community response. Community response can intensify further if sleep is disturbed and quality of life or property is degraded.

Weather conditions influence the sound level generated and how it travels to nearby homes. Sound waves expand outward from the wind turbine with the higher frequencies attenuating at a faster rate than low frequencies. Locations beyond a few thousand feet may be dominated by low frequency sounds generated by the wind turbines. Wind turbulence and icing, both common in New England due to topography and latitude, increase aerodynamic noise from intensified or chaotic dynamic stall conditions along the blade surfaces. Atmospheric conditions at night and downwind enhance sound propagation toward the ground by increasing levels over longer distances. Wind turbines are elevated hundreds of feet to receive stronger winds yet winds down on the ground or in nearby valleys may be non-existent with correspondingly low background sound levels, accentuating the impact of the intrusive sounds.

Other professionals have developed thresholds, or criteria, for sound level to protect public health that may be applied to planning for wind turbine permitting. Recommendations from Hayes McKenzie Partnership in 2006 limited maximum wind turbine sound levels at residences to 38 dBA and no more than 33 dBA when “beating noises” are audible when the turbines spin.

Dan Driscoll presented his analysis in 2009 (Environmental Stakeholder Roundtable on Wind Power, June 16, 2009) with a Composite Noise Rating analysis of 33 dBA to reduce rural community response to the level of “sporadic complaints.”

Michael Nissenbaum issued his findings in 2010 from his medical study at Mars Hill, recommending a 7000-foot setback for public health (1.4 miles). The World Health Organization published sound level thresholds of sleep disturbance and adverse health effects from peer-reviewed medical studies (Night Noise Guidelines for Europe, October 2009).

Currently there is no effective, reliable noise mitigation for wind turbines of this size other than shutdown. Therefore, at this time it appears appropriate that proposed wind turbine sites should position wind turbines at least one mile away from residential properties and further for sites with more than one wind turbine.

This article can be found in its entirety at

Voices of experience

Click on the video above to hear residents of Vinalhaven, Maine describe what it’s like to live with wind turbine noise. Residents are proponents of green energy and originally supported an industrial wind turbine in their community … until it was turned on.

Noisy proposition for Marblehead 

“Marblehead residents fear noise pollution from the turbine,” said Marblehead Board of Health member Michelle Gottleib. “There’s a lot of emotion around this and we have to tread carefully. This is a Salem issue.” Lynn Daily Item, 8/18/11:


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