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Before–after field study of effects of wind turbine noise on polysomnographic sleep parameters  

Author:  | Health, Noise, Ontario

Introduction:

‘Sleep, a natural behavioral state and a vital part of every individual’s life, involves distinct characteristics and many vital physiological changes in the body’s organs that are fundamental for physical and mental health. The physiological processes involve protein biosynthesis, excretion of specific hormones, and memory consolidation, all of which prepare the individual for the next wake period. Fragmented and insufficient sleep can adversely affect general health impacting daytime alertness and performance, quality of life, and health, and potentially lead to serious long-term health effects.

‘Sleep disturbance is considered the most serious nonauditory effect of environmental noise exposure. Harnessing wind energy has resulted in a new source of environmental noise, and wind is one of the fastest growing forms of electricity production worldwide. Canada’s current installed capacity is over 10,000 MW, with an anticipated minimum of 55,000 MW by 2025. This growth in wind energy development is not without controversy, as health effects such as noise annoyance and sleep disturbance have been reported by residents living close to wind developments. Such reports are increasing in Canada and worldwide, despite the adoption of setbacks and other measures that have been effective for other sources of noise pollution. …’

Significant findings reported:

‘[R]eported quality of sleep significantly declined after exposure (P = 0.008). Participants also reported higher levels of stress before bedtime (P = 0.039) and in the morning (P = 0.064), and also reported feeling more sleepy (P = 0.013) in the morning and throughout the day (P = 0.014) after exposure. …

‘Noise difference [between preoperation and operation of turbines] correlated with the difference in the number of awakenings (r = 0.605, P = 0.001), SSC [sleep stage changes to a lighter stage] difference (r = 0.600, P = 0.001), arousal difference (r = 0.551, P = 0.004), and percentage of S2 [stage 2 sleep] difference (r = −0.499, P = 0.009).’

Leila Jalali, Philip Bigelow, Mahmood Gohari, Diane Williams, and Steve McColl, School of Public Health and Health Systems, and Mohammad-Reza Nezhad-Ahmadi, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Noise & Health 2016;18:194-205

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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