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Documents presented here are not the product of nor are they necessarily endorsed by National Wind Watch. These resource documents are provided to assist anyone wishing to research the issue of industrial wind power and the impacts of its development. The information should be evaluated by each reader to come to their own conclusions about the many areas of debate.

Date added:  May 27, 2015
NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Wind Turbines – A Changed Environment

Author:  Palmer, William

This paper gives examples of the sound from wind turbines in the outdoor environment, and in the indoor environment. These are compared to other sounds occurring in the environment, such as road traffic or overhead aircraft, and to the sounds produced in a typical municipal library and by a typical refrigerator. In summary, the paper shows that wind turbines do alter the acoustic environment, both outside homes and inside homes presenting a greater difference at low frequencies than other sound sources normally met.

Presented at the 6th International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Glasgow, 20-23 April 2015

Download original document: “Wind Turbines – A Changed Environment”

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Date added:  May 25, 2015
Noise, WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Sound exposure in harbour seals during the installation of an offshore wind farm: predictions of auditory damage

Author:  Hastie, Gordon; Russell, Deborah; McConnell, Bernie; et al.


1. With ambitious renewable energy targets, pile driving associated with offshore wind farm construction will become widespread in the marine environment. Many proposed wind farms overlap with the distribution of seals, and sound from pile driving has the potential to cause auditory damage.

2. We report on a behavioural study during the construction of a wind farm using data from GPS/GSM tags on 24 harbour seals Phoca vitulina L. Pile driving data and acoustic propagation models, together with seal movement and dive data, allowed the prediction of auditory damage in each seal.

3. Growth and recovery functions for auditory damage were combined to predict temporary auditory threshold shifts in each seal. Further, M-weighted cumulative sound exposure levels [cSELs(Mpw)] were calculated and compared to permanent auditory threshold shift exposure criteria for pinnipeds in water exposed to pulsed sounds.

4. The closest distance of each seal to pile driving varied from 4.7 to 40.5 km, and predicted maximum cSELs(Mpw) ranged from 170.7 to 195.3 dB re 1μPa²-s for individual seals. Comparison to exposure criteria suggests that half of the seals exceeded estimated permanent auditory damage thresholds.

5. Prediction of auditory damage in marine mammals is a rapidly evolving field and has a number of key uncertainties associated with it. These include how sound propagates in shallow water environments and the effects of pulsed sounds on seal hearing; as such, our predictions should be viewed in this context.

6. Policy implications. We predicted that half of the tagged seals received sound levels from pile driving that exceeded auditory damage thresholds for pinnipeds. These results have implications for offshore industry and will be important for policymakers developing guidance for pile driving. Developing engineering solutions to reduce sound levels at source or methods to deter animals from damage risk zones, or changing temporal patterns of piling could potentially reduce auditory damage risk. Future work should focus on validating these predictions by collecting auditory threshold information pre- and post-exposure to pile driving. Ultimately, information on population-level impacts of exposure to pile driving is required to ensure that offshore industry is developed in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Gordon D. Hastie, Deborah J. F. Russell, Bernie McConnell, Simon Moss, Dave Thompson, and Vincent M. Janik
Sea Mammal Research Unit, Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

Journal of Applied Ecology 2015, 52, 631–640
doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12403

Download original document: “Sound exposure in harbour seals during the installation of an offshore wind farm: predictions of auditory damage”

Download supporting information: “Appendix S1: Estimation of acoustic exposure in seals”

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Date added:  May 24, 2015
Health, Iran, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Effect of Wind Turbine Noise on Workers’ Sleep Disorder: A Case Study of Manjil Wind Farm in Northern Iran

Author:  Abbasi, Milad; Monazzam, Mohammad Reza; Zakerian, SayedAbbolfazl; and Yousefzadeh, Arsalan

[Abstract] Noise from wind turbines is one of the most important factors affecting the health, welfare, and human sleep. This research was carried out to study the effect of wind turbine noise on workers’ sleep disorder. For this, Manjil Wind Farm, because of the greater number of staff and turbines than other wind farms in Iran, was chosen as case study. A total number of 53 participants took part in this survey. They were classified into three groups of mechanics, security, and official. In this study, daytime sleepiness data of workers were gathered using Epworth Sleepiness Scales (ESS) was used to determine the level of daytime sleepiness among the workers. The 8-h equivalent sound level (LAeq,8h) was measured to determine the individuals’ exposure at each occupational group. Finally, the effect of sound, age, and workers’ experience on individuals’ sleep disorder was analyzed through multiple regression analysis in the R software. The results showed that there was a positive and significant relationship between age, workers’ experience, equivalent sound level, and the level of sleep disorder. When age is constant, sleep disorder will increase by 26% as per each 1 dB increase in equivalent sound level. In situations where equivalent sound level is constant, an increase of 17% in sleep disorder is occurred as per each year of work experience. Because of the difference in sound exposure in different occupational groups. The effect of noise in repairing group was about 6.5 times of official group and also 3.4 times of the security group. Sleep disorder effect caused by wind turbine noise in the security group is almost two times more than the official group. Unlike most studies on wind turbine noise that address the sleep disorder among inhabitants nearby wind farms, this study, for the first time in the world, examines the impact of wind turbine noise on sleep disorder of workers who are more closer to wind turbines and exposed to higher levels of noise. So despite all the good benefits of wind turbines, it can be stated that this technology has health risks for all those exposed to its sound. However, further research is needed to confirm the results of this study.

Milad Abbasi, PostGraduate Student, School of Public Health
Mohammad Reza Monnazzam, Occupational Hygiene Department, School of Public Health, and Center for Air Pollution Research, Institute for Environmental Research (IER)
SayedAbbolfazl Zakerian, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health
Arsalan Yousefzadeh, PostGraduate Student, School of Public Health
Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Fluctuation and Noise Letters 14, 1550020 (2015) [15 pages]
DOI: 10.1142/S0219477515500200

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Date added:  May 21, 2015
Germany, Health, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Intensivierung der Forschung zu möglichen gesundheitlichen Auswirkungen bei Betrieb und Ausbau von Windenergieanlagen

Author:  German Medical Association

[Increasing research into possible health effects from the operation and expansion of wind turbinesThe motion of Dr. Bernd Lücke (printed matter VI – 106) will be transferred for further consideration to the Executive Board of the German Medical Association]

Der Entschließungsantrag von Dr. Bernd Lücke (Drucksache VI – 106) wird zur weiteren Beratung an den Vorstand der Bundesärztekammer überwiesen:

Die Windenergie als eine der erneuerbaren Energieformen wird künftig stärker genutzt werden. Dies ist nach dem im Sommer 2011 beschlossenen Atomausstieg gesellschaftlicher Konsens. Der Ausstieg aus der Atomenergie zeigt, dass problematische Teilaspekte der Nutzung in die Zukunft verschoben wurden; bis heute ist die Frage der Endlagerung der Brennstäbe nicht wirklich gelöst. Bei den erneuerbaren Energieformen sollte daher im Vorfeld der gesamte Lebenszyklus dieser Technologien von der initialen Rohstoffbereitstellung bis hin zur Entsorgung in die Planungen und Risikoabwägungen einbezogen werden. Dieses erfordert wissenschaftlich fundierte Erkenntnisse zu möglichen gesundheitlichen Auswirkungen, um eine bewusste Abwägung von Nutzen und Zumutbarkeit von validen Beeinträchtigungen sowie Risiken vornehmen zu können. Insbesondere für die Immissionen im tieffrequenten und Infraschallbereich gibt es bisher keine belastbaren unabhängigen Studien, die mit für diesen Schallbereich geeigneter Messmethodik die Wirkungen auch unterhalb der Hörschwelle untersuchen. Somit ist eine gesundheitliche Unbedenklichkeit dieser Schallimmissionen derzeit nicht nachgewiesen.

Der 118. Deutsche Ärztetag 2015 fordert daher die Bundesregierung auf, die Wissenslücken zu den gesundheitlichen Auswirkungen von Infraschall und tieffrequentem Schall von Windenergieanlagen (WEA) durch wissenschaftliche Forschung zu schließen sowie offene Fragen im Bereich der Messmethoden zu klären und gegebenenfalls Regelwerke anzupassen, damit der Ausbau und der Betrieb von WEA mit Bedacht, Sorgfalt, ganzheitlicher Expertise, Nachhaltigkeit und gesamtgesellschaftlicher Verantwortung erfolgen kann.


Insbesondere bei den gesundheitlichen Auswirkungen von Infraschall (< 20 Hz) und tieffrequentem Schall (< 100 Hz) durch Immissionen und Emissionen von Windenergieanlagen bestehen noch offene Fragen, z. B. zur Wirkung von Schall unterhalb der Hörschwelle oder von tiefen Frequenzen bei steigender Expositionsdauer. Des Weiteren sollte ein Anpassungsbedarf bei Messmethoden und Regelwerken geprüft werden, z. B. bei der Übertragbarkeit von Abstrahlungs- und Ausbreitungsmodellen für kleinere WEA auf große Anlagen sowie bei verbindlichen Regelungen von Messung und Beurteilung tiefer Frequenzen (0,1 bis 20 Hz).


118. Deutscher Ärztetag [118th German Medical Assembly]
Frankfurt, 12.05. – 15.05.2015
TOP VI – 106

Download original document: “118. Deutscher Ärztetag – Beschlussprotokoll”

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