How much science is enough?

Peter Deterra, the recently re-elected Health Board member in Fairhaven and his cohort, Jeannine Lopes, have repeatedly said we need more science before action can be taken to protect residents from the harmful effects of the wind turbines. Given this ardor for science, they have probably already read Paul Schomer’s recent research, but perhaps others might be interested.

Paul Schomer is a PhD in Acoustics, a member of the Institute of Noise Control Engineering, and a Professor of Acoustics in the Electrical and Computer Engineering program at the University of Illinois. He is one of the most distinguished and widely published experts in acoustics today, with more than 35 refereed publications, and numerous patents for acoustic instrumentation.

Recently, Schomer gave testimony to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission regarding a proposed wind plant in the Town of Highland, Wisconsin. In his testimony, Schomer said:

”In a recent paper…I show that for a small group of specially selected people, the probability that motion sickness-like symptoms experienced by wind farm residents are unrelated to wind turbine noise is less than two in a million. In other words, it is virtually certain that these individuals are adversely affected with serious health effects that result from the acoustic emission of nearby wind turbines.”

To rephrase, there is a 99.9998% probability that wind turbines cause motion sickness-like symptoms in people who live near them. To put this in context, it is more certain than the probability that smoking causes cancer.

Schomer goes on to testify that ”All the experts in this proceeding agree that the louder the turbines are in audible noise and the larger the turbines are in structure, the more infrasound will be produced. The larger mega turbines seem to correlate very starkly with health impacts. It is significant that in a wind farm with only eight turbines, three families have left their homes in the Town of Glenmore.”

Two points worth noting here. First, the louder the audible sound from the turbines, the more infrasound they produce. Secondly, infrasound from large turbines causes damage to health. This tracks closely with Dr. Nina Pierpont’s recommendation in Wind Turbine Syndrome that community standards for audible noise should be much lower for turbines because of the infrasound and low frequency noise that goes with it. Pierpont recommended a nighttime standard of 35 dbA for turbines. This is close to the 33 dbA community noise standard recommended by the EPA since 1974, long before wind turbines were even an issue. Perhaps the board of health should take note that two in Fairhaven routinely operate at 50+ dbA according to the DEP report.

Beginning in 1980, a long line of acoustic experts who have reached similar conclusions about the dangers of large turbiness, including Malcolm Swinbanks, DN Kelley, GP van den Berg, Rick James, George Kamperman, Bob Thorne, Steven Cooper, Stephen Ambrose, and Robert Rand to name some of the most notable. Remarkably, there are no independent studies to show turbines are safe.

Some months ago, Dr. Hazel Lynn and Dr. Ian Arra conducted the most extensive literature search and meta-analysis concerning the health impacts of turbines ever attempted. Their study surveyed virtually every major source of peer-reviewed publications and journals in the English language, covering millions of documents. They concluded that there are NO studies in the world that prove there is NO association at all between turbine noise and ill health. None.


Ken Kimmel, Commissioner, MA-DEP


Alicia Barton, formerly Deputy Commissioner of MA-DEP, now Executive Director of MassCEC

In my opinion, the complete lack of evidence that turbines are safe led the MA-DEP Commissioner, Ken Kimmel, and his then Deputy, Alicia (McDevitt) Barton, to commission the “Wind Turbine Health Impact Study” at great taxpayer expense. In this “study,” no turbine noise was measured, no one affected was examined or interviewed, and no one with actual experience or expertise researching turbine health impacts contributed to it.

Not surprisingly, this study has been widely condemned by true experts as a sham, as junk science. In my opinion, this study is nothing more than a shameless attempt to fraudulently convince communities in Massachusetts that wind turbines were safe—despite the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. Perhaps that is why Schomer specifically mentioned this study in his testimony:

”In a paper to be presented and to be published in December 2013…we show that the Massachusetts study’s conclusions about the lack of connection between human health and infrasound and wind turbine noise are flat out wrong.”

Is Schomer’s work finally enough science for the likes of DeTerra and Lopes to take action to protect Fairhaven residents? Or, will their further delay amount to another case of what Paul Schomer called “…a grand experiment with the Town residents as the guinea pigs”.

Curt Devlin, Fairhaven, MA

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One Response to How much science is enough?

  1. Pingback: How much science is enough? | ajmarciniak

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