Humming blight mystifies scientists
These so-called 'hummers' had hoped to hear that their protracted search was over. Many had become convinced that the source was the compressor stations at the end of British Gas transmission pipes.
But at a meeting in Solihull, near Birmingham, yesterday, three of the company's scientists dismissed the theory.
There are a few thousand known hummers in Britain - 500 new cases are reported each year. The hum, described by one sufferer as the sound of a car engine running constantly a few hundred yards away, is a minor irritant for some, but others have had their lives devastated. Some are on tranquillisers and cannot sleep. One has reportedly been driven to suicide.
Suggestions for the cause of the hum abound. They include air- conditioning, underground water pumps, factory noises, road vehicles and electro-magnetic fields around radio transmitters. But representatives of the Low Frequency Noise Sufferers Association had hoped the answer lay in the gas pipes.
'Our analysis was well received,' Pat Weatherilt, acting head of environment at British Gas, said. 'These people have a deep conviction about the cause of their suffering and the association with our pipelines, which is not based . . . on logic or science.' In a report published yesterday, British Gas analysed all the complaints the company received over the past decade. It concludes: 'The amount of low frequency sound energy emanating from the national transmission system is negligible compared to that from other sources, for example, motorways and trunk roads.'
It goes on to say that British Gas compressor stations operate, on average, for only 16 per cent of the time. 'They cannot therefore be the source of the continuous noise of which most sufferers complain.'
In several individual cases the scientists identified the source of the hum, and if this was a British Gas site it remedied the problem. But the researchers point out that low frequency sounds are less readily absorbed by air or objects in their path as high frequency noises. Potential sources could therefore be 'many and varied, and often impossible to identify'.
The scientists concede that sufferers are 'sincere indidviduals' who are in many cases caused considerable distress. They suggest that age may play a part - older people are general accepted as being less sensitive to high frequencies.
Earlier this year the hummers had their suffering acknowledged. The Department of the Environment is funding a two-year study in which scientists are trying to find the source of the hum for 25 sufferers.
Representatives from Ofgas, the industry's watchdog, attended yesterday's meeting. A consultant is liaising with the Buildings Research Establishment which is co-ordinating the Government's study.
The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Mia Khalifa: Pornhub star claims Drake sent her 'cringeworthy' naked photos on Instagram
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A skilled .NET developer with e...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company are cur...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...