What It Is Ain’t Exactly Clear

The Windsor Hum, it is being called. And it is driving some local folks to ill mental health.

It was bad enough this time last year when the logging trucks rumbling past our front porch was the only noise that broke the maddening drone of chain saws. But at least I knew the source of the noise, and I had the hope that when there were no trees left standing on the neighbor’s acres, the noise would stop.

The poor people in Windsor Ontario seem to have reason to blame the near-neighbor Americans for the incessant low-frequency rumble and hum that is disturbing tens of thousands.

But so far, even the experts (seismologists, audiologists and other scientific sleuths) have failed to explain the maddening hum.

Tests coming up in the next week or two with new instrumentation should fill in some of the gaps.

I can say from personal experience, it is possible for noise to be a stressor that can literally make you sick.

However, if the noise is industrial and from the American side, the hum may sound like money to those who produce it. Stay tuned to see how this one is going to end.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Not sure this is related, but I constantly heard a humming, slightly rumbling sound in my house 2 summers ago. It could have been that trees were being felled a few miles away. However, I *never* heard it outside of my house. I even heard it when I cut off the circuit breaker — so it was not an electric hum in my home.

    In any event, you might be interested in this article from the BBC News from June 13, 2011. Entitled “Who, What, Why: Why is ‘the hum’ such a mystery. Here is the web link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-13752688