A number of people have commented on our decision not to include audio recordings of the wind turbine that is drawing complaints here in Falmouth. For example, this from Cant-hear-it:
… NONE of the sounds could be recorded for the story! Funny how only a few neighbors can hear this stuff. The NPR microphones can’t pick it up, and the Town’s noise study can’t either. A huge noise problem that can’t be heard.. How do you spell “exaggeration”?
As I pointed out in a reply comment, the decision was made specifically to avoid exaggerating the situation:
To be sure, we are talking about fairly low sound levels in terms of total decibels. In order to get high-quality recordings and make them clearly audible on the radio, [Sean] would have had to turn up the gain on his microphone. As he said to me, he thought that would be disingenuous. While I very much sympathize with the desire to experience the sound for oneself, I tend to agree with him.
That, apparently, just fueled the flames.
“To be sure, we are talking about fairly low sound levels in terms of total decibels. In order to get high-quality recordings and make them clearly audible on the radio, he would have had to turn up the gain on his microphone.”
This point, buried deep in the comments, deserves to be front-and-center.
I thought I’d take that suggestion and give Sean a chance to address this himself – front-and-center.
First, as we’ve reported, many of the residents who say they have been adversely affected by the turbine say it’s actual “infrasound” or low-frequency noise that most humans cannot hear. So even if we could gather that sound with our recording equipment, it is not something that can be played for our listeners.
But wind turbines do make noise, and we certainly could have played sound that we recorded near the turbine. But even in those instances, the gain on our recording equipment needs to be raised significantly in order to capture the sound and make it distinguishable over the area’s ambient noise. We did not feel it would be fair or accurate to play sound that has been significantly amplified.
Residents also say that the health effects they are experiencing are cumulative, in that they they increase in severity over time. It is not typically a situation, they say, where listening to the turbine for a few minutes is going to make people sick.