Robert Rand

Robert Rand is a professional acoustician from Maine.  He is a member of INCE, has his own consulting business, and has been active in industrial noise management in a career spanning 4 decades.  In his words, he has experienced just about every type of noise out there.

About two years ago he became interested in wind turbine noise following the complaints of neighbors at several Maine wind projects, including Mars Hill and Vinalhaven.  His interest apparently was piqued by the high level of the complaints relative to the low level of the noise, and he decided to independently (i.e. unpaid) investigate.

I first became aware of his activities when I stumbled across an impressive presentation on wind turbine noise he made in February 2011 in Michigan, which led to a posting here.   Then in April he reappeared when he wrote a remarkable letter to Dr. Pierpont [backup copy] where he noted that he (and an associate, Steve Ambrose) had personally experienced many of the health effects that the neighbors had been complaining about.  He writes:

I’m writing to let you know that we both experienced adverse medical effects in the vicinity of the turbine under survey (one industrial wind turbine) under strong wind conditions aloft. Nausea, loss of appetite, vertigo, dizziness, inability to concentrate, an overwhelming desire to get outside, and anxiety.

The distance was approximately 1700 feet.

We obtained relief, repeatedly, by going several miles away.

He had his equipment out during this time and noted that there was no relationship between the dBA readings and his reactions.  He concludes: So we have a complete disconnect between medical impact and regulatory framework.

A Canadian talk-show host, Jerry Agar, picked up on the story and had a 6-minute interview with him on April 25, during which he repeated his account.   Three new tidbits emerged during the interview.  (1) Over a week after the exposure he still had trouble with vertigo and concentration, (2) the noise from wind turbines is in a class by itself, and (3) the home he was at when this happened will likely be abandoned.  One nitpick – Agar referred to Rand’s account as “anecdotal”.  Incorrect.  This was a first-person observation, reported and recorded in a manner that makes for pretty strong (if not conclusive) evidence that something is unhealthy about the noise from wind turbines.  What that “something” is may yet be unknown, but there’s no doubt it exists.

No doubt the wind energy promoters will dismiss Rand and Ambrose as either victims of the nocebo effect, or that they’re working on some financial angle.  I wonder, how many reports will it take before these stories are believed – that wind turbines, in certain conditions and to certain people, are a real hazard.  Or is this a case where how difficult it is to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it?

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