Scituate’s director of public health, Jennifer L. Sullivan, said her office has received complaints from 15 people, mostly regarding noise, flicker, and sleep disruption. “We’re still in the discovery phase,” she said. “We’re going to have some testing done.”
Further research is needed to figure out safe distances for wind turbines, said Michael Nissenbaum, a radiologist at the Northern Maine Medical Center who conducted a study of residents living near wind turbines in Mars Hill, Maine.
“I think it’s ridiculous that people jump to conclusions that it’s a placebo effect . . . ’’ Nissenbaum said in an interview. “To come out right out of the gate and say that these people are just making this up because they don’t like [wind turbines] . . . that’s malpractice, from a medical point of view.”
Harris Miller Miller & Hanson Inc., a noise-consulting firm in Burlington, has been tapped to study one of Kingston’s turbines, a privately owned structure atop a capped landfill. The firm will place noise-monitoring instruments around the turbine, with microphones about 5 feet from the ground (roughly the height of a human ear), to collect data on sound levels and frequencies.
One interesting finding is that “people seem to be more sensitive to sounds from wind turbines than from transportation sources,” said Christopher W. Menge, principal consultant and senior vice president with Harris Miller.
One possible reason is that unlike much other noise, turbines don’t get quieter at night, so people notice them more, he said. He added that the pulsating noise of turbines “sounds different. It’s unusual in the environment. It’s something new.”