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Revisiting the Damaging Effects of Infrasound

Melonie Potts of Marietta, Georgia, knew that’s Feature Story running this week, would begin to lay out the case against former Executive Director of the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority, Bob Saylors. Melonie was one of the first persons who contacted me in the summer of 2004, after she had seen my presentation about the Infrasound phenomenon we experienced from Ridge Ferry Park Concerts, and the horrible, unbearable noise which inundated our 110 year old home at the top of Historic Lumpkin Hill.

It was Melonie who was sent to contact me, which she did by leaving a note on my front door. You see, the Avenue A Neighborhood in which she and her husband lived, had been complaining to Bob Saylors for years. They experienced the same chest pounding, window rattling, wall shaking until pictures fell off their hooks jarring that we had, and they joined me in my fight to get Bob Saylors to pay attention to us.

In fact, it was his refusal to do anything, and his lying during a meeting we had with he, Tom Watson and several other RFPRA Board members, which decided me to begin to dig in to the Rome Floyd Park and Recreation Authority. Bob Saylors sat in that meeting, four summers ago, and lied, saying that no one but my husband and myself had ever complained. When he did that, Melonie Potts slid the file folder over across the table, which contained several letters, dating as far back as late 1999, from members of the Avenue A Neighborhood, as well as one letter from Bob Saylors, promising to check in to the problem, and to address it.

Melonie and I asked ourselves, “If Bob Saylors would lie in a meeting like that, with plenty of proof to the contrary, what else must he be lying about? And, as they say, the rest is history.

So imagine. Melonie’s delight as she read this past Sunday’s AJC, to come across a story about the very issue which started this whole deal.

Quoting from an AP article from London:

Rock Concerts Shaking Up British Palace”. Rock concerts are leaving one of Britain’s most treasured royal palaces all shook up — literally, a conservation group said Thursday. Vibrations from music events at Hampton Court Palace, southwest of London, have damaged windows, mirrors and objects mounted on the walls, the charity warned.Ian Gibb, a scientist who assessed damage for Historic Royal Palaces, a conservation charity, singled out low bass frequencies as the probable cause of the damage.

Sensors rigged up by Gibb’s group during the latest events showed music vibrations affected windows close to the stage and put the ones already suffering from some decay at greater risk. Vibrations could also worsen problems such as frost damage, Gibb said. Fireworks used during concerts also produce low-frequency noise and are damaging windows, he said.

Sound familiar? In May of 2004, I appeared at both the City of Rome Commission and the Floyd County Commission, to share the research I had uncovered, which included several exchanges with Dr. Robert Fifer, an Audiology specialist, who had studied the damaging effects of sound on the human body while he was with the United States Air Force.

From his research and exchanges with several scientists from the National Oceanic and Aeronautics Administration, (NOAA), I had learned about infra sound, and told both Commissions:

“This effect is caused by a phenomenon called infrasound, which is strong, low frequency sound wave vibrations such as the sort produced by amplification of low or “bass” tones by a sound system. Infrasound waves hug the ground, travel for a long distance without losing strength, and are unstoppable. The sound waves are invisible, and slam in to living tissue and physical structures with great force, and can vibrate organs, buildings and can actually flatten objects, and can even explode matter” .

Numerous studies have been conducted making the link between exposure to infrasound and extreme aggression and violence, due to over stimulation of the adrenal glands, as wave after wave of infrasound slam in to them causing a ‘Fight or Flight” response. When exposed to levels of infrasound consistent with those experienced at a typical concert venue, small laboratory animals have experienced internal bleeding, and even death, as organs have hemorrhaged”.

At least someone from the Rome City Commission convinced Mr. Saylors and Tom Watson to bring in a sound engineer to take some readings, but he did not have the proper equipment to measure, and had never really done this sort of work before. A few adjustments were made to the rules and regulations regarding bass levels at the concerts at Ridge Ferry Park, and the concert schedules have been greatly reduced, but nothing significant was ever done to address the actual low-bass, infrasound issue. Melonie and I were called crazy, kooks, and the “B” word by many a Roman, to our face, in public, and behind our backs. One editor from the Rome News Tribune told several folks that I was another Ann Atwell.


But the concerts are still loud, they still shake neighborhood windows and walls, and they still slam in to the living tissue of the neighbors in Avenue A and on top of Lumpkin Hill. Melonie and her husband were able to move, as were my husband and I . But the poor people over on Avenue A who could not , still slowly lose their minds when ever there is a concert venue in Ridge Ferry Park.

The United States Air Force was not good enough to convince local authorities. Will the studies by a British scientist trying to safeguard historic structures there convince the City of Rome to do something? You know, say someone who is not the “B” word, or a silly Air Force doctor. Avenue A and Lumpkin Hill have historic homes which are upwards of 125 years old. Are these structures important enough for anyone to do something about this problem?

This also begs the question, if the concert bass is slamming in to and destroying buildings, and slamming in to and destroying human tissue and causing aggression, what must it be doing to the wild life along and in the river? Why has the Coosa River Basin Initiative not taken up this cause?

It is just a question we thought was appropriate to ask, during this week of revisiting the downfall of the Bob Saylors Empire.

Teresa Watson and Melonie Potts

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  • Title: Revisiting the Damaging Effects of Infrasound
  • Written on: September 20th, 2007
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