The Brownsville diaries: A family’s life with wind turbine noise

April 16, 2008

Wendy Todd, Mars Hill, Maine
“People bought property here specifically for the silence.”
—Wendy & Perrin Todd, Mars Hill, Maine (Photo ©Boston Globe)

The following diary has been reprinted, verbatim and with permission, from a website called Better Plan, Rock County (Wisconsin).  The photo, above, is from a windfarm in Mars Hill, Maine.  The diary, below, is from a windfarm in Wisconsin.  Noise problems are similar at both windfarms.

—Editor

“Today we feature the first entries of a noise log kept by a Brownsville family who live 3/4 miles east of South Byron in Fond Du Lac County, Wisconsin.

“The new wind turbines have just gone online there. They aren’t the only family we’ve heard are having turbine troubles. We’ve heard from several. Children seem to be especially affected by noise and headaches.

“If you are having problems with turbines it’s important you start a day-to-day diary right away, so you will have a record of what is happening to you. And please let us know how you are doing.

“The Diary Begins:

“Our family lives on County Road Y in Brownsville, Wisconsin, which is about ¾ of mile east of South Byron.

  • Turbine # 4 is 1560 feet behind my house.
  • Turbine # 3a is about 500 feet mostly east and a little north of turbine #4.
  • Turbine #6 is about ¾ of mile to the northwest of our home.
  • Across the road, mostly south and slightly west is turbine #73 at a distance of 2480 feet.
  • Down the hill to the west is turbine #74a which is about ¾ of a mile away.

“We can hear all five of these turbines at various times.

“The following is a log of our experiences with wind turbine noise.

March 3, 2008
Turbine #4 turning slow for the first time.

10:00 PM I went out to check the fire and I looked up in the sky to try and see the jet flying over. It was not a jet, but the turbine.

March 6, 2008
Same sound as Wednesday the 3rd of March

March 7, 2008
Turbine sound. Our 13 year old son, complained of a headache. He had not been told headaches being one of the side effects of turbine noise. My wife and I were concerned about how the turbine noise would affect him. He has become our son via social services with many problems. His ears are like that of Radar on MASH. He hears sounds before we do, such as fire department sirens.

March 8, 2008
Saturday AM. Loudest so far. Like jet in sky with whoosh to it. I have not written every day. That does not mean the turbine sound is not there. I feel we may never have peace and quiet ever again. We can only hope there are days with no breeze.

March 10, 2008
5 PM  Sounds like a high flying jet.

10 PM  Low flying jet. At 10pm loudest I have heard it. My son still has headache.

March 18, 2008
#4 not turning but could hear whoosh of #6. We could hear the turbines daily so if there is no record that does not mean there was no sound.

March 25, 2008
Could hear whoosh of #3a. #4 not turning at 4:45 PM.

At 5:30 PM #6 turning with jet sound of whoosh of turning blades.

Our son is a foster child we adopted. He has lots of issues which are mostly behavior but also include mental problems. If we just stopped by to talk and you interacted with him you would not know, but tick him off and you would see it. He is like Radar on MASH in that he usually hears sirens before we do. My wife was concerned about his health when talk began about turbines and then we received information about health issues. Our son does not know about the health issues from us or from anyone talking about them.

Soon after #4 began turning he had a bad headache. It lasted about four days or he mentioned them for four days. At school there is a complicated way to help him try and behave and do his schoolwork. He does not focus and is angered easily. So there is a level system with level 4 being the best and in level 1 he is in solitary confinement and cannot go to his regular classes. Level 3 he is in the special ed. room with other students. Level 2 he is in the special ed. room but kept from other students.

For about two weeks he did well and stayed at level 4. After the turbine began turning and the headaches he has now gone to level 1. I should also say he can only go up or down one level in a day.

Since Wednesday he has told teachers and the principal and us that his head is spinning and in some cases he tells us that his head is spinning 100 miles an hour. I would guess it has a connection to his behavior at school.

Sometimes we can hear the turbine while in our house.

March 26, 2008
#4, #3a & #6 running. Can distinguish between #3a and #4 jet sound whoosh.

March 27, 2008
Fairly quiet

March 28, 2008
Not much wind. Slow turn. Not much noise.

March 29, 2008
Wind from SE. Jet sound with only slight Windcows [sic]

March 30, 2008
Turbines around us not running much.

March 31, 2008
6 AM Jet sound.

10 PM fog, drizzle. Woosh sound.

April 1, 2008
Wind NW 14 mph. 6:15AM #4 not running. I hear #6 with jet sound.

2:30 PM  Tower #6 still very loud.

April 2, 2008
6 AM  Wind from the SW. #4 jet sound. Now hearing #73 and #74a as they have come online. In the afternoon #74 is louder than #73.

April 3, 2008
6 AM Some sound from #4

April 4, 2008
6 AM  #4 turning slow, no wind.

11 PM #4 and 73 loud and sound like jet going over

April 5, 2008
Our son could not sleep and was up at 1:30 AM. I sent him back to bed and went to our family room in the north end of the house. I could hear turbine #6 from inside the house. Remember that turbine is ¾ of a mile from our house. I turned on the TV (low sound) and could still hear the turbine.

7:30 AM Definitely that jet sound from #4.

Can also hear #’s 3a, 6 and 73. I had a brief unusual feeling in my head somewhat like when one gets off a roller coaster. This was around 11:00AM. This is the loudest the sound has been since March 5th.

At 11 PM still that jet sound.

April 6, 2008
6-6:15 AM  Wind from the South. Turbine #’s 4, 6, 73, 74a all turning. Jet sound as soon as I went out the house door.

9 AM #’s 6 &73 loudest.

10 PM #4 quite loud. Saturday has been the worst day so far.

April 7, 2008
5:30 AM Can hear the turbines easy.

10:00 PM Quietest in 3 days

April 8, 2008
Drizzle and not many turbines turning at 10PM. #4 some sound

April 9, 2008
My wife told me she had a headache Friday through Monday with turbines turning. She had no headache Tuesday. Turbine was not turning. This morning she told me she has a headache and asked me if the turbine is turning. Yes it is.

April 10, 2008
Fairly quiet today.

April 11, 2008
6 AM Could hear the whoosh but turbines were hidden in fog.

3:00 PM Loud, jet sound with strong south wind.

April 12, 2008
7 AM #4 jet sound with whoosh sound.  At breakfast asked Robert if he could hear the turbines in the house. “Yes, and I hear them in my room,” he said. “Some nights I can’t sleep.” His room is upstairs on the SW corner of the house.  As I sit below his room (inside the house) I can hear the turbine at this moment.

9:30 PM #4 not running, however I can hear the jet sound of #6.

April 13, 2008
6 AM #4 jet sound. Light wind but can hear #6.

10 PM #4 turning but sound is quiet.

April 14, 2008
9 AM No turbines going and all is quiet. Very nice. No sound, like that of the plane grounding after 9-11. All 86 turbines were still. Thought there must be problem. Late afternoon they began turning again. By 10PM the noise of the jet flyover was back.

April 15, 2008
Turbine #4 not turning. #73 is loud. I could hear it in the house. I felt something unusual at the base of the back of my neck. Too loud.

3 PM #4 turning. My wife says the sound “Is loud.”  It may have happened before, however today is the first day that I noticed that our dog stopped walking from the house about 20 feet down the sidewalk to look north at the turbine.

April 16, 2008
During the day the wind is strong. The weather man says the wind will be 25-35 miles per hour. So strong that I don’t hear the turbines very much.

From 6 PM to 10 PM the turbines were loud. I could hear #’s 4, 73, and 74a. Jet sound or like waiting for two trains to crash. We house a 360 (cubic inch) sprint car at our house. Tonight it was run for the frist time this year. One of the guys mentioned he could hear the turbine (#4) over the sound of the race car engine while it idled. He was standing between the tire and the engine or right next to the engine. The car has no muffler. Earlier my wife said she worked outside all afternoon in the wind and her ears were fine. When the wind died down and could hear the three of the turbines her ears hurt.  She also mentioned the whooshes between turbines were out of sync.

It is 11:27 PM. I am at the computer and can hear #73 from inside my house with no windows open. When I went to bed my head felt different.  I felt lightheaded or dizzy with my stomach not feeling quite right as well. We had spent much of the evening raking leaves and cleaning the yard.

April 17, 2008
Jet sound some of the day.

April 18, 2008
Fairly quiet.

April 19, 2008
Wind from the north very slow, so the sound is quiet.

April 20, 2008
There is a little wind, sound fairly quiet jet sound at 6 AM

April 21, 2008
6 AM  The sound had been quiet over the weekend. Now it is back to its irritating sound.

10:30 PM can hear #73 like a train winding down the tracks. #4 sounds like a jet flying over.  Only a slight wind on the ground.

April 22, 2008
6 AM  Some sound.

3 PM  Sounds like a train. Could also hear # 73.

10 PM  Like a train under a load pulling a load of heavy cars up the Byron Hill. That hill is about 2 miles away.

April 23, 2008
5:30 AM  Slight jet sound.

5:30 PM  I can hear turbines 73 and 4.

10:00 PM #4 back to full jet flying-over sound.

When we went out at 10 PM our dog stopped near the end of the sidewalk to look toward the turbine.  He has done that about 4 times now.

April 24, 2008
6:00 AM I can hear #73 louder than #4.

3:30 PM  It is windy. I can hear turbine sound inside the house.

April 25, 2008
5:30 AM I can hear turbine #4 while it is hidden in the fog and #73 is louder.

4:00 PM  I am sitting at the dining room table reading the paper and can hear turbine #4. We have a well insulated home with vinyl siding, one inch styrofoam, one inch sheeting boards and 3 7/8 inch studs with R13 fiber glass insulation. I feel like I am sleeping well yet I am tired and feel exhausted during the day. We went to a play, Big, the Musical, Friday night and I walked out before intermission because I was falling asleep. It was not just closing my eyes and dozing a bit, but putting my head in my hands and sleeping. Could this be turbine related?

10:30 PM  Some sound.

April 26, 2008
Windy.

7:00 PM #4 not turning.  It has been a windy day.

8:00 PM  The wind is from the west. There is a loud jet sound.

10:00 PM I can hear turbine #’s 4, 6 and 73. #6 is the loudest, but furthest away. This is very annoying.

April 27, 2008
6:00 AM  I have not been outside yet, however I can hear the turbines while sitting at the computer.

6:15-7:45 AM I was working in the yard and could hear turbines # 4, 6 and 73. #6 is the loudest. Remember that turbine is ¾ mile away.

9:30 PM  Peace. The turbines are not turning.

April 28, 2008
Quite peaceful today

April 29, 2008
6 AM  Turbine turning slow with little sound.

3 PM  Turbine not turning.

It has been a peaceful today, however now, 10:30 PM, turbine #4 is back to it’s rather loud sound, somewhat like a large train engine under load with the whooshing sound of the blades.

It is midnight and I can hear #4 from my dining room.

April 30, 2008
5:30 AM  Low noise.

3 PM  Moderate noise.

9:30 PM  Jet sound, or like having your car window open 1/8″ while driving down the freeway.  Annoying.

May 1, 2008
6 AM  Fairly quiet.

May 2, 2008
6 AM  Not much sound.

3 PM  Louder.

7 PM  Wind is from the south or a little southwest. This is the loudest sound in 3 or 4 days. We can hear turbines 4, 6, and 73. Number 4 sounds like a jet flying over, number 73 a deep sounding thunk.

Sitting at the computer at 11 PM. I can hear turbine sounds. Our oldest son (age 33) said, “When it is calm it sounds like the generator humming. When it is windy I hear air going through the blades.”

May 3, 2008
6 AM  I have not been outside yet this morning, but I can hear turbine #4 or #73 (or both) while in the house. Someone chose 50 dB of sound as being a standard or okay or an acceptable sound level. Whatever the level by whoever it was, this is not acceptable.

5:30 PM Loud jet sound. I can hear turbine #4 from our mailbox, which is another 150′ added to 1560′ and the length of our house. Weekends seem to be loud. I can hear low sound of #4 inside the house.

11 PM  Loud jet sound. I can hear #4 and #73.

May 4, 2008
7 AM  Turbine is turning slow and quiet.

12:30 PM  30′ from the house door turbine #4 sounds like the F16’s flying over at the NASCAR race at Brooklyn, Michigan. I can also hear the sound in the house as I write this. I can also hear turbine #73, keeping in mind that 73 is 2480’away from the house. Does that suggest that the 1000′ or 1800′ is not enough setback from the turbines that energy companies and the Public Service Commission say make little or no noise? It sounds like a political campaign: Tell the lies now and hope the constituents forget or deal with reality later.

Tonight turbine #73 and #4 seemed to be fighting with each other. They both are loud. I walked closer to turbine #4 so that I was 1350′ away. That meant I was 2690′ from turbine #73. That’s 100′ more than half a mile away and it was louder than turbine #4. The wind at ground level was straight from the S-SW. In the inside front of the house I can hear turbine #73. In my family room in the back of the house (56′ long) I hear turbine #6 or #4. It is not the sound of a jet flying over or a whoosh, but more like hearing your heart beat with a stethoscope.

May 5, 2008
5:30 AM  Same sound as last night.

6:30 PM How nice. It is calm and all the turbines are still. The robins and cardinals are happy too. I hear them chirping. I had not noticed them when the turbines are loud. I will pay closer attention to listen for that in the future.

May 6, 2008
5:15 AM  I can hear turbines 4 and 73 quite loud.

4:30 PM  Turning quietly.

11:00 PM  I have the kitchen door and combination door open. It is loud with the two turbines sounding like they are fighting to see who can win at being the loudest.

11:30 PM I am sitting by the computer. I can hear turbine #73 grinding away. Remember, that one is 2480′ away from the house. Usually I get past the large pine tree 30′ from the house before the sound gets my attention. Tonight the turbine sound was loud on the porch just outside the house door.

May 7, 2008
6:15 AM  Again the loud sound right outside the door. For the people that say “Oh, you will get used to it,” you are wrong. The sound is getting more aggravating and annoying.

3:20 PM I have been neglecting turbine #6 for a while. I won’t today. At the moment it is louder than turbine #4. In case you don’t care to go way back to the beginning of this log, turbine #6 is about ¾ of mile away or about 3960′ away (plus or minus a few feet). That would give the impression that a 1000′ setback approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission is certainly insufficient and inept.

11:15 PM Turbine #4 is moderately grinding away. Our 13-year-old son had some late school work to do. He went to bed at 10:00PM. He should be tired. At 10:40 he came downstairs and to our bedroom, where I was talking on the phone. He had an oversized piece of paper that he had drawn a picture of a wind turbine on. Yes, he should have been sleeping, however he couldn’t sleep. He had opened his window because it was nice outside and he could hear turbines #73 and #4 from his open window. (Probably turbine #73 because that window faces the south toward turbine #73.) He also had a headache. This morning at the table for breakfast he also complained that he still had a little bit of a headache.

May 8, 2008
5:45 AM  Turbines are slow moving and quiet.

10:00 PM  Quiet.

May 9, 2008
6:00 AM  Only a few of the 86 turbines are turning. From somewhere on my property or the center of the road I can see all 86 turbines in this wind farm. It is very peaceful and quiet.

10:30 PM  Peaceful and quiet. It is rare.

May 10, 2008
6:30 AM  Turbine #4 is turning slowly. I can hear the turbine while walking in the back of our property.

11:30 PM  I can hear #73.

May 11, 2008
7:30 AM  My wife did not sleep well last night.  The turbines are not very loud at this time.

12:15 PM to 5:00 PM  The wind is from the north with the sound of a jet flying over, very annoying.

9:30 PM  I can hear the beating sound of turbine #4 while sitting at the computer.

10:20 PM  The turbine is loud and violent, ripping through the night sky. Late this afternoon I took a pain killer for my headache. I can’t think of when I took a pain-killer for a headache. At least a year, as it is extremely rare for me to have a headache. I did not sleep well. This has happened several times when hearing the turbines from inside the house.

May 12, 2008
5:30 AM  Moderate sound.

4:45 PM  I can hear turbine #4 over road traffic in front of our house.

11:00 PM  Jet sound.

May 13, 2008
5:20 AM  I can hear turbine #73 from inside the bathroom.

6:15 AM  I am walking in the yard and can hear a number of the turbines. I walked away from #73 toward #4. When I was about 2737′ from turbine #73 it is still very loud, but now is close to the sound of #4.

3:30 PM  Turbine continues to be loud.

4-7 PM  I worked in the garden. There were times when it sounded like a Chinook
helicopter doing heavy work. Very loud.

9:00 PM  Turbines #4 and #73 are ripping through the sky.  At times #73 is loud like blasting in a stone quarry. A loud, pounding sound. I hear them while at the computer once in the house.

____________________

What is being described above is Wind Turbine Syndrome (WTS).  Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD, has completed and submitted a lengthy clinical article on WTS, which will be appearing in a peer-reviewed, front-rank clinical journal shortly.

You can read the abstract of her article here.  You can listen to an in-depth radio interview with Dr. Pierpont here (Radio CFCO, Chatham-Kent, Ontario, Canada, 2/28/08).  Be sure your speakers are turned up.

—Editor