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Resource Documents: Noise (526 items)


Also see NWW press release on noise

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:  January 31, 2015
Noise, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, TechnologyPrint storyE-mail story

Analysis, modeling, and prediction of infrasound and low frequency noise from wind turbine installations

Author:  MG Acoustics

MG Acoustics has carried out the analysis, modeling, and prediction of infrasound and low frequency noise from wind turbines at two different sites, as part of the Health Canada study. This work has been divided into two parts, Phase 1 and Phase 2, associated with a Prince Edward Island site and a Southern Ontario site, respectively. There are several overall objectives:

Infrasound and low frequency noise from two wind turbine sites (PEI and Southern Ontario locations) has been addressed. This work allows Health Canada to evaluate whether or not infrasound and/or low frequency noise (from wind turbines in the locations specified) can be detected at different distances; and secondly to determine whether the Parabolic Equation method of calculation gives an adequate explanation of the experimental values with regards to infrasound and/low frequency and distances at which it can be detected. Thirdly, the results should allow Health Canada to reliably make infrasound and low frequency noise predictions (using Harmonoise) at southern Ontario sites.

The work has been completed in two phases:

1st Phase – Analysis of infrasound and low frequency noise measurements and analysis of meteorological data will be completed including the generation of theoretical predictions at the PEI site. This phase of the project has been described in the report “Analysis, Modeling, and Prediction of Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise from Wind Turbine Installation. Phase 1: PEI Site. Final Report”, submitted in February 2014.

2nd Phase – Modeling has been carried out and applied to wind turbines sites in southern Ontario. This phase of the project has been described in the report “Analysis, Modeling, and Prediction of Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise from Wind Turbine Installation. Phase 2: Southern Ontario Site. Final Report”, submitted in February 2014.

Wind turbine noise calculation results

This file presents results from the calculation of wind turbine noise levels for 1238 homes in the study. Noise results are presented according to the distance from the closest wind turbine to the participant’s home.

dBA calculations were based on wind turbine sound power levels from the manufacturers, which were verified for consistency with field measurements, and were derived according to international standards (ISO 9613-1 and ISO 9613-2), which were incorporated into a sound propagation modelling package (Cadna A version 4.4). The model also took into account geographical features which can influence sound propagation around the dwellings in the study, such as topography, vegetation and water features.

dBC noise levels were also derived from manufacturer supplied sound spectra and were supplemented by field measurements to extend the wind turbine sound power levels to lower frequencies (down to 16Hz). Following the same methodology and parameters that were used to determine A-weighted levels, the C-weighted sound levels were derived using the Cadna A version 4.4 software package.

The standard uncertainties in these results are +/- 30m for the distances to the nearset wind turbine and +/-5dB for the dBA and dBC noise levels for residences that are situated up to 1.6 km to the closest wind turbine. After 1.6 km, the uncertainties, evaluated according to the ISO 1996-2 standard, are derived according to the following formula: 1 + d/0.4, where d represents the distance to the nearest turbine (in km). As such, the uncertainty for a dwelling that is situated 10km away would be +/- 26 dB.

When examining these results, it is important to keep in mind that although some dwellings may be situated at approximately the same distance to the nearest wind turbine, they can receive different noise levels. This can be explained by the fact that each residence can be exposed to different numbers and models of wind turbines, which can generate more or less noise depending on their power output and physical characteristics, as well as the different geographical features that surround each residence, which can have an impact on noise propagation.

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Date added:  January 24, 2015
Australia, Noise, TechnologyPrint storyE-mail story

Results of an Acoustic Testing Program – Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm

Author:  Acoustic Group

A number of findings arise from the study and have been grouped as follows.

11.1 Non-acoustic findings

The following non-acoustic findings of the study are considered to be significant:

11.2 Acoustic findings

There are a significant number of acoustic based findings obtained from the study. Due to the complex interaction of various components of the study the findings have been grouped as follows.


Other acoustic parameters, including infrasound





Turbine operation

11.3 Subjects of further investigation

As the basis of the study was to start from the complaints end of the equation, rather from a noise end, material/advice and comments are provided to assist others in further studies or an extension to this study in relation to wind farm operations.

11.4 Suggestions

During the course of the study there were significant issues in terms of instrumentation that requires for other researchers in this area identification of problems and the essential need for persons involved in the measurements of noise, and particular infrasound, in proximity to wind farm affected environments to utilise calibrated instrumentation covering the entire signal chain from the microphone (or pressure sensor) through to the read out. Reliance upon manufacturer’s data does not always cover the entire spectrum of concern, with an entire section of this study report addressing instrumentation issues that have been established during this study.

From the resident’s subjective observations a wind turbine signature has been derived that indicates the averaged unacceptable presence of sensation inside a dwelling (for those 6 residents) occurs at an level of 51 dB(WTS) – when assessed as rms values 400 lines for analysis range of 25 Hz. Utilising PSD values (400 line 25 Hz range) the unacceptable level for the 6 residents occurs at 61 dB(WTS).

Being the first study to document or to identify “sensation” associated with the wind farm and the wind turbine signature, it is noted that the sample data is small and has persons already affected by the “noise”. The findings must be considered as preliminary and warrants further detailed studies of the scientific rigour necessary for the purpose of confirming/verifying the suggestions for the use of the nominated dB(WTS) thresholds.

On the basis of a limited number of affected residents for the study, it is suggested that:

On the basis of a limited number of affected residents for the study, it is suggested that:

Download the original documents from the following links:
The Results of an Acoustic Testing Program – Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm
Appendices A to H
Appendices I to J
Appendices K to M
Appendices N to P
Appendices Q to S
Appendices T to V

Letters of endorsement:
Bob Thorne, Noise Measurement Services
Stephen Ambrose, S.E. Ambrose & Associates
Robert Rand, Rand Acoustics
Carmen Krogh, independent researcher
Richard Mann, University of Waterloo
Les Huson, L Huson & Associates — with corroborating data

Review of the Cape Bridgewater acoustic testing program and where it is leading
Further comments on the Cape Bridgewater Wind Farm Study — Muddying the waters
—Paul Schomer, Schomer and Associates, Standards Director, Acoustical Society of America; and
George Hessler, Hessler Associates

Radio Victoria interviews:

Steven Cooper (principal, Acoustic Group)

Andrew Richards (executive manager, external affairs, Pacific Hydro)

Annie Gardner (resident)

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

Some individual differences in human response to infrasound

Author:  Nussbaum, D.S.; and Reinis, S.

[Abstract] A review of literature describing the effects of very low-frequeney sound on humans revealed a controversy between authors claiming that infrasound is very harmful to humans and those claiming that infrasound cannot engender any subjective or objective symptoms. This report shows that these discrepancies may be explained by individual variability in response to low-frequency sound.

An experiment was performed to determine whether some individuals are uniquely sensitive to infrasound. Three acoustic conditions were employed. These consisted of a control (amplifier hum) condition and two 8 Hz infrasound conditions: a high distortion signal and a low distortion signal. Subjects were grouped by their subjective responses.

No control subjects exposed to amplifier hum reported any adverse responses. The distribution of symptoms (headache and fatigue vs dizziness and nausea) between the high and low distortion groups was significantly different. In persons reporting symptoms, the higher level of harmonics was primarily associated with headache and fatigue, while reduction of harmonics primarily resulted in dizziness and nausea.

Subjects reporting dizziness and nausea were subjected to up to four additional sessions – two control, one low distortion, and one with only some harmonics without infrasound. These sessions showed that these symptoms were replicable and related only to the infrasound.

Multivariate and univariate analyses showed that the subjects reporting adverse symptoms can be distinguished from the other groups on the basis of heart rate, respiratory rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure changes, gaze nystagmus, time estimation and mood scales but not EEG, p1ethysmography, TTS, a short-term memory task, Eysenek Personality Inventory, Cornell Medical Index or age.

The adverse responses of some individuals closely resemble motion sickness. Individua1 differences in the reaction to infrasound may then be explained by variability of inner-ear structure or central adaptive mechanisms.

D. S. Nussbaum and S. Reinis
Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo
Institute for Aerospace Studies, University of Toronto

UTIAS Report No. 282, January 1985

Download original document: “Some individual differences in human response to infrasound”

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Date added:  January 12, 2015
Health, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Selected abstracts from Inter-Noise 2014

Author:  Various

Selected abstracts from the 43rd Inter-Noise Congress, Melbourne, Australia, 16-19 November 2014. Click here to download the complete Book of Abstracts – Inter-Noise 2014.

Also see:  Wind turbine noise: papers from Inter-Noise 2014 conference

Public participation at measures to reduce noise in Germany
Zeisler, Annett
Federal Environment Agency, Germany
An essential part of a modern noise reduction strategy is the involvement of the public. This important approach is implemented in the European Environmental Noise Directive. According to this Directive, noise action plans will be developed with the participation of the public. In Germany, the individual participation in planning processes is increasingly in the focus of public interest and in political discussions. Especially, in context of large-scale infrastructure projects such as the expansion of an airport. The goal-oriented implementation of the participation process and the challenges of an effective participation are demonstrated at prominent examples. Moreover, proposals for a further development of the legal requirements of the public participation at EU as well as international level will be presented. In this context, special consideration is given to measures of a clear and effective participation. The aim of these activities is to achieve a higher acceptance for official decisions of great importance. The involvement of the public in the decision-making process could also have a positive effect on their annoyance reaction because noise is often perceived as less loud if people are directly involved in the process. (full text and e-mail via the above link – ad EU Directive 2002/49/EF 25. June 2002 – see:

Noise sensitivity modulates the auditory-cortex discrimination of sound feature changes
Heinonen-Guzejev, Marja; Klyuchko, Marina; Heikkilä, Kauko; Spinosa, Vittoria; Tervaniemi, Mari; Brattico, Elvira
University of Helsinki and Aalto University, Finland
Noise sensitivity refers to physiological and psychological internal states of any individual, which increase the degree of reactivity to noise. There are only few studies on the neural mechanisms underlying noise sensitivity. Mismatch negativity (MMN) is a component of the auditory event-related potential (ERP), generated in the supratemporal lobe of the brain, that is elicited by any discriminable change in some repetitive aspect of the ongoing auditory stimulation. In this study, we recruited 61 healthy adult subjects (age range 19-46 years) and measured their MMN to several sound feature changes inserted in a music-like sequence and administered the noise sensitivity questionnaire. With the help of this method we studied how the neural discrimination of sound changes (as indexed by MMN) is associated with noise sensitivity (as indexed by the questionnaire). The results showed that noise sensitivity had an influence on MMN to sound changes in timbre, with lower MMN responses in individuals with high noise-sensitivity scores than in those with low noise-sensitivity scores. According to the literature available this is the first study on this topic.

What factors are associated with noise sensitivity in the UK population?
Clark, Charlotte; Smuk, Mel; Stansfeld, Stephen; van de Kerckhove, Rik; Notley, Hilary
Queen Mary University of London and Defra, United Kingdom
This paper explores whether certain sub-groups of the UK population are more or less noise sensitive, using the 2012 National Noise Attitude Survey (NNAS 2012) dataset. NNAS 2012 was a community questionnaire survey of 2747 respondents in the UK, which measured attitudes to environmental noise. Data relating to a range of sociodemographic, dwelling, and geographic factors was also collected. Respondents rated how sensitive they were to noise on a seven-point scale ranging from ‘not at all sensitive’ to ‘very sensitive’. Linear effect coding regression analyses were used to develop multivariable models of associations with noise sensitivity. A range of noise sensitivities were reported by the respondents (median = 4). Overall, noise sensitivity was more strongly associated with sociodemographic factors than with dwelling or geographic factors. Age; gender, homeownership, children, employment status, social class, and interviewer rating of hearing problems were associated with noise sensitivity after adjustment for dwelling and geographic factors. The analyses suggest that certain sub-groups of the population may be more or less noise sensitive compared with the UK population as a whole. The policy implications of these findings will be discussed.

Propagation thresholds and measurement of infrasound to establish separation distances from wind farm turbines to residences
Thorne, Bob
Noise Measurement Services, Brisbane, Australia
Of all the issues surrounding noise emissions from wind farms, the question of the potential for annoyance and adverse effects from low frequency sound is one of the most topical. Anecdotal literature is replete with statements concerning the effects of infrasound and low frequency noise. In this paper we present objective methodologies to measure and assess infrasound and low frequency noise in the context of wind farm emissions. The methodologies are reviewed with respect to three wind farms: one each in New Zealand, Victoria (Australia) and South Australia. The South Australian review incorporates data from a recent South Australian EPA wind farm study. The calculations for recommended stand-off distances from wind turbines to residences are presented. The distances are based on the threshold of annoyance and physiological effects threshold anticipated for different turbines and frequencies.

Health in the noise context: the relativity of absolute health
Shepherd, Daniel; Dirks, Kim N.; McBride, David Iain; Welch, David
Auckland University of Technology, University of Auckland, and University of Otago, New Zealand
Noise remains a potent degrader of health in many contexts, capable of inducing severe annoyance and sleep disturbance. However, quantifying the impact of noise on health involves methods that are neither standardized nor always agreed upon. One issue centers on the conceptualization of health, and whether the WHO’s guidelines suggesting that noise impact is best measured using health-related quality of life indices is in fact valid. The WHO recommendation is largely based on the fact that, unlike diseases, disability, terminal illnesses or explicit physical insults, health impacts from noise are more insidious and covert, and difficult to disentangle from other processes impacting function. Arguably, however, the WHO’s 1948 seminal definition of health represents the prerequisites of good health, and does not necessarily provide a definition of health itself. More holistic definitions can be entertained, for example, good health is the ability of an organism to remain viable and successfully engage goal-directed behaviors within a host environment. Acknowledging that how health is conceptualized determines how health is measured, this paper argues that health-related quality of life has been unfairly marginalized in noise research. Furthermore, rather than being an adjunct to biomedical measures, health-related quality of life measures should be central to noise research. Interestingly, the challenging nature of quantifying the impacts of noise upon health provides a context to examine the broader meaning of health and suggest amendments to those advanced by the WHO.

Soundscape planning as a complement to environmental noise management
Brown, Alan Lex
Griffith University, Australia
The role and application of the concepts of soundscape planning, vis-a-vis those of environmental noise management, need elaboration. In noise control, sound is a waste product managed to reduce the immission of sounds that cause human discomfort. The soundscape approach, by contrast, considers the acoustic environment as a resource, focusing on sounds people want, or prefer. Quiet is not a core condition for acoustic preference in the outdoor acoustic environment, but congruence of soundscape and landscape is. So too is that sounds that are wanted are heard above, not masked by, sounds that are unwanted in that particular place and context. Advancement of the soundscape approach will be facilitated by distinguishing it, both conceptually and in practice, from the management of environmental noise. Dimensions of complementarity and difference between the two approaches include: different sound sources of interest in any acoustic environment; human responses to these sounds and outcomes that arise from these responses; measurement techniques and mapping; and appropriate objectives for management, planning and design. Soundscape planning and management augments environmental noise management, expanding the scope for application of the tools of acoustic specialists.

Four electrophysiological studies into noise sensitivity
Shepherd, Daniel; Hautus, Michael J.; Lee, Jenny; Mulgrave, Joe
Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
Noise sensitivity is present in many clinical populations, describes approximately 20% of the general population, though little is known about its underlying mechanisms. We present findings from four electrophysiological studies designed to expose possible differences in electrophysiological measures between noise sensitive and noise resistant individuals. Noise sensitivity was estimated using self-report measures, while electrophysiological indices included both cardiac (heart rate, heart rate variability) and electroencephalographic (event-related potentials, alpha persistence) measures. All four studies were designed with reference to pre-existing theoretical frameworks. While the findings from all four studies were not definite enough to decide a likely mechanism, they do suggest that electrophysiological investigation of noise sensitivity is viable and in need of further investigation.

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