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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2004 > Mar > Mar 29

Making Noise Over The Hum

From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul>
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2004 06:44:49 -0800
Fwd Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2004 14:36:17 -0500
Subject: Making Noise Over The Hum

Source: The Indy Star - Kokomo Indiana


Making noise over the hum
In Kokomo, complaints remain

By Tammy Webber
March 28, 2004

KOKOMO, Ind. -- Time has been kind to this storied city, where
old neon signs hang above shop entrances and blocks of stately
buildings form picturesque streetscapes.

Residents like to boast that Kokomo is the birthplace of the
first American-built automobile, the pneumatic tire, stainless
steel and the carburetor.

But in recent years, this city of about 46,000, an hour north of
Indianapolis, has been known for something else.

The Kokomo hum.

A drone so incessant that some claim it is making their lives
miserable and ruining their health.

While residents realize not everyone can hear their hum, they
say it's time for the state to hear their pleas.

"We are appealing to the state, 'Will you help us?' " said Gael
Deppert, an Indianapolis attorney who said she is volunteering
her services to help residents. "We need to bring in scientists
knowledgeable in various fields to try to grapple with this
situation. We're asking the state to come in with an open mind."

On Friday, Jim Cowan, a Massachusetts researcher who has studied
the hum, and Jeff Symmes, a Lafayette-area resident who says he
became ill while working in Kokomo asked Gov. Joe Kernan's
office for an in-depth study.

More than 100 people have complained of severe headaches,
nausea, joint pain, debilitating heart problems or memory loss
after they began feeling or hearing the hum.

Kernan spokeswoman Tina Noel said the governor would consider
the proposal.

Maureen Christie said a state study is overdue. She said she
began hearing the hum in 1999; the pipes in her home rattled and
it sometimes sounded to her as if she were in an airplane flight
path. Her sinuses bother her, she has memory lapses and her
joints ache.

When she called the State Department of Health to report a
booming sound, she said someone there told her she might want to
check her yard for a meteorite.

"I never called them again," said Christie, 61.

State environment officials said they're not quite sure where to

"We don't have experts on low-frequency noise," said Tim Method,
deputy commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental

In fact, there has been little research in the United States on
low-frequency noise or its health effects. There are no federal
or state standards for such emissions and no money to study
them, Method said.

He said the agency asked for assistance from the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention when the issue arose a few years ago, but
neither provided funding or technical help.

"This is new for almost everybody," said Method, who
participated in a discussion early last week with state health
officials -- talks that included Deppert, Symmes, Cowan and
other researchers. "We're willing to listen."

A non-believer

Brian Riffe shakes his head and smiles.

He's never heard the hum and doesn't believe it exists -- except
perhaps in the imaginations of a small group of residents.

"I think it's silly, I really do," said Riffe, 21, who manages
Victory Bike Shop. "I don't want to talk badly about some person
who is seriously having problems, but I think maybe we should
have more proof."

He also worries that attention generated by the hum -- stories
have appeared in national media as well as UFO Web sites --
 gives the town a bad name.

"I love this town and this is one more thing: Kokomo's got crazy
people complaining about the hum," he said. "Maybe there is some
proof behind this, and if there is, I'll eat my words."

Skepticism is the biggest stumbling block to getting regulators
and health officials to support a study, said Symmes.

"Most people think it's a joke, and that's a problem," he said.

Symmes was diagnosed by researchers in Portugal with
vibroacoustic disease -- a condition induced by low-frequency
vibrations that causes thickening of the pericardium, the thin
membrane around the heart.

He said he first suspected something was wrong when he was
working in Kokomo in 1999 and began having nosebleeds, severe
headaches, fatigue and joint pain that couldn't be explained by
doctors -- complaints similar to those of dozens of other
residents, based on letters written to lawmakers.

Vibroacoustic disease also can cause pulmonary fibrosis and
damage the central nervous and immune systems, said Mariana
Alves-Pereira, a researcher at the Center for Human Performance
in Portugal, where most studies of the disease have taken place.

The fact that some people in Kokomo -- especially those who work
in industry -- may be exposed to it 24 hours a day, seven days a
week "is very worrisome," she said.

"In Kokomo, our worry is that it apparently is in the home, in
schools, in playground -- everywhere," said Alves-Pereira.

There is no doubt that low-frequency vibrations exist in Kokomo.

An $80,000 study funded by the city of Kokomo last year
confirmed low-frequency tones coming from equipment at two local
factories, perhaps contributing to the hum. Although Haynes
International, a manufacturer of metal alloys, and
DaimlerChrysler's casting plant have agreed to try to muffle the
sounds, researchers say the mystery of the Kokomo hum is far
from solved.

The hum also could be caused or worsened by radio and
electromagnetic frequencies from cell phone towers and other as-
yet-undiscovered sources, said Cowan, the Massachusetts
acoustical engineer who conducted the study.

An Illinois consulting company that measured radio frequencies
and radiation as part of the study described a "fairly complex
electromagnetic environment for a small city," due to cellular
phone towers, radio stations and nearby airports.

That could explain why some residents report hearing a high-
pitched sound, rather than the low booms or vibrations of low-
frequency noise, he said.

Infrasound, very low-frequency noises, are below the range of
human hearing, but can create vibrations and cause other objects
to produce sound. Most people cannot hear tones below 20 hertz;
Cowan measured tones as low as 10 hertz near Haynes.

Electromagnetic radiation does not cause measurable pressures,
but some theorize it could cause sounds to be generated in a
person's head, Cowan said.

Next month, Cowan will retest in Kokomo to determine if the low-
frequency tones around Haynes and DaimlerChrysler have abated.

"I personally think electromagnetic fields have more to do with
(the hum), but we won't know that till we check it out. That's
the big mystery."

Experts estimate it would cost about $400,000 to survey and
inspect sources of ultralow-frequency noise and electromagnetic
waves and determine if they might cause residents' health
problems. They also want the state to host a scientific
symposium on the issue of noise pollution and its effect on

Kokomo city attorney Ken Ferries said officials know the city's
study didn't provide all the answers.

"It's not unusual in industry to have machines that create
noises, but I don't think that's the whole story," he said.

That's why there is no time to waste, said Deppert, the
Indianapolis attorney.

"My sense is that technology has advanced more quickly than our
understanding of the health implications of that technology,"
she said. "I hope that the state could be a significant
contributor to the body of information and maybe help all of us
catch up with the learning curve."

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