Everything in life is a trade-off in one way or another, and with any new development in technology it seems that there is always some negative side-effect that surfaces – sometimes years later.
Remember DDT? Great stuff for killing all sorts of pests. When it first came along, they even used to dust children’s hair with DDT to combat lice – just as a preventative measure! A few years later though, and people were horrified at how carelessly it had been used.
Unintended Side Effects Happen Everywhere
I was doing a little searching on the net to research the newly announced Barbados windpower initiative, when I discovered an article about illnesses and disorientation caused by living too close to the low-frequency sounds of large wind turbines.
From my old days of attending concerts where music was played at outrageous volumes, I know that certain levels of bass sounds can make a person sick to their stomach or even make them fall down. Apparently, some of these windfarms have the same effect.
Lets hope that the folks who build this much needed power source in Barbados take all this into consideration when choosing their locations and technologies.
Excerpts from the Toronto Globe newspaper…
Wind farm drove us from our home, family says
HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia man who abandoned his home, claiming noise from a nearby wind farm made his family sick, says a study by an audio expert proves his case, even though a new federal report concludes the exact opposite.
Daniel d’Entremont and his family left their home in the southwestern Nova Scotia community of Lower West Pubnico last February.
Mr. D’Entremont says the 17 wind turbines that tower over the community — the closest just 400 metres away — were sending low-frequency vibrations into the house.
This inaudible noise, he claims, deprived his family of sleep, gave his children and wife headaches and made it impossible for them to concentrate.
“We’ve only returned three nights, and whenever we return we feel this sensation in our body,” said Mr. d’Entremont, who now lives in nearby Abrams River with his wife and four of their children. Two other children live on their own.
But a study released this month by the federal Natural Resources Department, which oversees funding for wind farm projects, found no problems with low-frequency noise, also known as infrasound.
…There is no consensus about whether low-frequency vibrations from spinning wind turbines can affect the health of nearby residents.
Some experts deny the link outright while others urge further research…
Gordon Whitehead, a retired audiologist with 20 years’ experience at Dalhousie University, conducted tests at d’Entremont’s home.
Mr. Whitehead said he actually recorded similar levels of low-frequency sounds in and around the home as listed in the federal report.
The difference, he said, is in his interpretation.
“They’re viewing it from the standpoint of an engineer; I’m viewing it from the standpoint of an audiologist who works with ears,” said Mr. Whitehead, who wrote the report on his own time and paid his own expenses.
“The report should read that [the sound] is well below the auditory threshold for perception. In other words, it’s quiet enough that people would not be able to hear it. But that doesn’t mean that people would not be able to perceive it.”
While it’s still not clear what, if anything, related to the wind farm was making the d’Entremonts sick, Mr. Whitehead says low-frequency noise can affect the balance system of the ear, leading to a range of symptoms including nausea, dizziness and vision problems.
“It’s not perceptible to the ear, but it is perceptible,” he said. “It’s perceptible to people with very sensitive balance mechanisms and that’s generally people who get very easily seasick.”
… Read the full article at the Toronto Globe Newspaper (link here)