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Association between wind turbine noise and human distress: Literature review  

Author:  | Health, Noise

Study Objectives
To search the literature investigating the presence or absence of association between wind turbines induced-noise and human distress.

Null Hypothesis (Our investigation will disprove or fail to disprove [a null hypothesis can never be proven]):
There is no association between wind turbines induced-noise and human distress.

Alternative Hypothesis (Will be accepted if the Null is disproven):
An association exists between wind turbines induced-noise and human distress.
Level of Evidence in Research

Databases Included in the Search

  • EMBASE: “more than 7,600 currently indexed peer-reviewed journals”
  • PubMed: A commonly used database for clinical research
  • PsycINFO: “is an expansive abstracting and indexing database with more than 3 million records devoted to peer-reviewed literature in the behavioral sciences and mental health, making it an ideal discovery and linking tool for scholarly research in a host of disciplines.”
  • The Cochrane Library: “Database of Systematic Reviews”
  • Scopus “The largest abstract and citation database of research literature and quality web sources covering nearly 18,000 titles from more than 5,000 publishers”.
  • Scirus: “Scirus is the most comprehensive science-specific search engine on the Internet. Driven by the latest search engine technology, Scirus searches over 440 million science-specific Web pages”
  • Open SIGLE (System for Information on Grey Literature in Europe)

Study Design Inclusion Criteria:

  • Studies examining association between wind turbine noise and distress
  • Studies that are published in peer-reviewed journals
  • English language
  • Studies involving humans

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Investigations reporting interim analysis that did not result in stopping the study
  • Secondary and long-term update
  • Duplicate reports
  • Cost effectiveness and economic studies

Variables Considered in This Review

  • First Author
  • Year of publication
  • Journal of Publication
  • Country of Study
  • Study Design
  • Sample Size
  • Response Rate
  • Objective of Study
  • Level of Evidence
  • Quality of Study
  • Conclusion of Study Effect

Variables Examined in the Studies

  • Annoyance (sensitivity to noise)
  • Attitude to wind turbines
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Dose-response
  • Economical benefit
  • Visual impact
  • Well-being (Quality of Life / mental effect)
  • Infrasound effect (Road Traffic Noise / quiet rural environment)

Results (click each graphic to enlarge)

Frequency of Variable Investigated

Tables 1 and 2: Review of Peer-Reviewed Studies Published January 1992–November 2012 Investigating the Association Between Wind Turbine Noise and Human Distress

Tables 1 and 2: Review of Peer-Reviewed Studies Published January 1992–November 2012 Investigating the Association Between Wind Turbine Noise and Human Distress

Tables 1 and 2: Review of Peer-Reviewed Studies Published January 1992–November 2012 Investigating the Association Between Wind Turbine Noise and Human Distress

Tables 1 and 2: Review of Peer-Reviewed Studies Published January 1992–November 2012 Investigating the Association Between Wind Turbine Noise and Human Distress

Discussion

  • All studies rejected the Null Hypothesis (no association between wind turbine noise and human distress). In other words, evidence of association was found (weak evidence: Level 4 and 5).
  • No published peer-reviewed study showed no association.
  • Three studies showed dose-response relationship.
  • The studies are level 4 or 5 (a weak type of evidence). Nevertheless, [they] strongly warrant further research (multiple studies, multiple designs, investigating multiple hypotheses).

Ian Arra, MD, MSc; Hazel Lynn, MD, FCFP, MHSc

Download original document: “Literature Review 2013: Association between Wind Turbine Noise and Human Distress

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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