Thursday, December 16, 2010

Infrasound: Be Afraid, be Very Afraid

Or, get informed.

In a blatant display of self-promotion, the Lemming presents a micro-review of something the Lemming wrote - for another blog:

"Winter, Christmas, Small Town America, and News "
Sauk Centre Journal Blog (December 16, 2010)

"...This week's Sauk Centre Herald front page reminded me of reasons why I love living here. It's not that this example of small town America is some perfect little care-free haven, where improbably cheerful folks live just the way it was in the 'good old days.'

"I remember 'the good old days,' by the way: and they weren't. Which isn't quite another topic.

"The top headline this week is about wind turbines, a wind farm that's planned for this area, and concerns that a couple of folks have about it. It's not the aesthetics of the wind turbines that bothers them: They've heard that the blades make infrasound. That's another invisible thing that may hurt people. Or, not.My guess is that we've got more trouble with the 60-cycle hum generated by the power grid: but I'm not terribly concerned about that, either...."

That got the Lemming curious. In the Sauk Centre Journal Blog, I point out that "infrasound" is a fancy word for sound that's pitched too low for us to hear. Concerns about infrasound are real: in a very qualified way:
That WUSM, St. Louis, MO, study points out that each heartbeat produces "infrasound." so does each breath. Our bodies generate it every time we cough, too.

"Infrasound," as such, seems to be part of our environment. Part of us, for that matter.

The sort of sound wind turbines make? The WUSM article's abstract says that in unusual cases, some folks really do experience change in their ears. Sometimes.

Where concern about wind turbine sound is, on the scale between something serious and a new way to get research grants? The Lemming doesn't know.

It's a little hard to work up a panic over this, since, as the Lemming wrote in that other blog:

"...I remember when everything caused cancer. During those particular 'good old days,' we were also warned that some carcinogens caused heart attacks. These dire threats were discussed - quite seriously - in newspapers and magazines, and worked their way into college textbooks.

"Some of that, ah, concern was based on reality. Some - well, we've moved on to other terrifying threats...."

About the wind turbines? The Lemming thinks it shouldn't hurt to let researchers look into whether or not there's a cause for concern. Provided they do real research, the kind with facts and numbers.

Vaguely-related posts:


Brigid said...

Typo: "seems to be part of out environment."

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Thanks! Fixed.

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