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Officials should not turn deaf ear to wind turbines’ sound effects

I am concerned that John Anderson (“Studies fly in face of concerns over wind turbines’ impact,” Letters, Aug. 21), the American Wind Energy Association, and the Massachusetts Departments of Environmental Protection and Public Health are doing their best to ignore the science behind a possible explanation for the adverse health experiences of some people living near wind turbines.

I am a physicist and engineer who agrees that the climate is changing; that it is almost certain that the principal reason for this is human activity, particularly greenhouse gas emissions; and that we need to move vigorously toward various forms of green energy, including wind energy when machines can be suitably sited.

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However, there is adequate scientific evidence in peer-reviewed publications to make it clear that some infrasound emitted by wind turbines — sound vibrations at frequencies below those normally heard — makes some people sick. By refusing to consider and investigate infrasound as a cause of physical distress, and insisting that measurement of normally heard sound tells all, the association and the state agencies are only storing up trouble for the future of wind energy.

The infrasound problem of wind turbines may be solvable by simple measures if the details are understood. Some research attention to the problem will be required; denial in the face of what is already known is not likely to be convincing.

Robert A. Frosch


The writer is a senior associate at the Kennedy School and a guest investigator at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

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