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Resource Documents: Health (447 items)

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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:  April 5, 2018
Health, WildlifePrint storyE-mail story

Living in habitats affected by wind turbines may result in an increase in corticosterone levels in ground dwelling animals

Author:  Łopucki, Rafał; et al.

Environmental changes and disturbance factors caused by wind turbines may act as potential stressors for natural populations of both flying and ground dwelling animal species. The physiological stress response results in release of glucocorticoid hormones. We studied two rodent species of the agricultural landscape (the common vole Microtus arvalis and the striped field mouse Apodemus agrarius) and tested the hypothesis that living in habitats affected by wind turbines results in an increase in corticosterone levels. Rodents were trapped at sites near wind turbines and in control areas. Faeces samples were collected from traps where the targeted animals were caught. For the analysis of corticosterone concentrations in the faeces, we used ELISA tests with antibodies for this hormone. The common vole showed a distinct physiological response − the individuals living near the wind turbines had a higher level of corticosterone. The striped field mouse did not show a similar response. We pointed out the main factors increasing corticosterone levels in voles and features of the studied species that may determine the differences in their reaction including: the width of the ecological niche, spatial mobility, and predation pressure. This is the first study suggesting impact of wind farms on physiological stress reactions in wild rodent populations. Such knowledge may be helpful in making environmental decisions when planning the development of wind energy and may contribute to optimization of conservation actions for wildlife.

Rafał Łopucki, Center for Interdisciplinary Research, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland
Daniel Klich, Department of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Warsaw University of Life Sciences–SGGW, Poland
Agnieszka Ścibiorc, Dorota Gołębiowska, Laboratory of Oxidative Stress, Center for Interdisciplinary Research, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
Kajetan Perzanowski, Institute of Landscape Architecture,John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin

Ecological Indicators 84 (2018) 165–171. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.08.052

Living in habitats affected by wind turbines may result in an increase in corticosterone levels in ground dwelling animals

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Date added:  April 3, 2018
Germany, HealthPrint storyE-mail story

Does the Presence of Wind Turbines Have Negative Externalities for People in Their Surroundings? Evidence from Well-Being Data

Author:  Krekel, Christian; and Zerrah, Alexander

Abstract:
Throughout the world, governments foster the deployment of wind power to mitigate negative externalities of conventional technologies, notably CO₂ emissions. Wind turbines, however, are not free of externalities themselves, particularly interference with landscape aesthetics. We quantify the negative externalities associated with the presence of wind turbines using the life satisfaction approach. To this end, we combine household data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) with a novel panel dataset on over 20,000 installations. Based on geographical coordinates and construction dates, we establish causality in a difference-in-differences design. Matching techniques drawing on exogenous weather data and geographical locations of residence ensure common trend behaviour. We show that the construction of wind turbines close to households exerts significant negative external effects on residential well-being, although they seem both temporally and spatially limited. Robustness checks, including view shed analyses based on digital terrain models and placebo regressions, confirm our results.

Christian Krekel, Paris School of Economics – EHESS, France
Alexander Zerrahn, German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin)

Download original document: “Does the Presence of Wind Turbines Have Negative Externalities for People in Their Surroundings? Evidence from Well-Being Data

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Date added:  March 29, 2018
Denmark, Health, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Short-term nighttime wind turbine noise and cardiovascular events: A nationwide case-crossover study from Denmark

Author:  Poulsen, Aslak Harbo; et al.

A B S T R A C T

Aims: The number of people exposed to wind turbine noise (WTN) is increasing. WTN is reported as more annoying than traffic noise at similar levels. Long-term exposure to traffic noise has consistently been associated with cardiovascular disease, whereas effects of short-term exposure are much less investigated due to little day-to-day variation of, e.g., road traffic noise. WTN varies considerably due to changing weather conditions allowing investigation of short-term effects of WTN on cardiovascular events.

Methods and results: We identified all hospitalisations and deaths from stroke (16,913 cases) and myocardial infarction (MI) (17,559 cases) among Danes exposed to WTN between 1982 and 2013. We applied a time-stratified, case-crossover design. Using detailed data on wind turbine type and hourly wind data at each wind turbine, we simulated mean nighttime outdoor (10–10,000 Hz) and nighttime low frequency (LF) indoor WTN (10–160 Hz) over the 4 days preceding diagnosis and reference days. For indoor LF WTN between 10 and 15 dB(A) and above 15 dB(A), odds ratios (ORs) for MI were 1.27 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.97–1.67; cases=198) and 1.62 (95% CI: 0.76–3.45; cases=21), respectively, when compared to indoor LF WTN below 5 dB(A). For stroke, corresponding ORs were 1.17 (95% CI: 0.95–1.69; cases=166) and 2.30 (95% CI: 0.96–5.50; cases=15). The elevated ORs above 15 dB(A) persisted across sensitivity analyses. When looking at specific lag times, noise exposure one day before MI events and three days before stroke events were associated with the highest ORs. For outdoor WTN at night, we observed both increased and decreased risk estimates.

Conclusion: This study did not provide conclusive evidence of an association between WTN and MI or stroke. It does however suggest that indoor LF WTN at night may trigger cardiovascular events, whereas these events seemed largely unaffected by nighttime outdoor WTN. These findings need reproduction, as they were based on few cases and may be due to chance.

Aslak Harbo Poulsen, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen, Alfredo Peña, Andrea N. Hahmann, Rikke Baastrup Nordsborg, Matthias Ketzel, Jørgen Brandt, Mette Sørensen
Diet, Genes and Environment, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen; DTU Wind Energy, Technical University of Denmark, Roskilde; and Department of Environmental Science, Aarhus University, Roskilde, Denmark

Environment International 114 (2018) 160–166. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.02.030

Download original document: “Short-term nighttime wind turbine noise and cardiovascular events: A nationwide case-crossover study from Denmark

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Date added:  February 21, 2018
Health, Noise, OntarioPrint storyE-mail story

There’s a Persistent Hum in This Canadian City, and No One Knows Why

Author:  Mele, Christopher

A persistent noise of unknown origin, sometimes compared to a truck idling or distant thunder, has bedeviled a Canadian city for years, damaging people’s health and quality of life, numerous residents say.

Those who hear it have compared it to a fleet of diesel engines idling next to your home or the pulsation of a subwoofer at a concert. Others report it rattling their windows and spooking their pets.

Known as the Windsor Hum, this sound in Windsor, Ontario, near Detroit, is unpredictable in its duration, timing and intensity, making it all the more maddening for those affected.

“You know how you hear of people who have gone out to secluded places to get away from certain sounds or noises and the like?” Sabrina Wiese posted in a private Facebook group dedicated to finding the source of the noise.

“I’ve wanted to do that many times in the past year or so because it has gotten so bad,” she wrote. “Imagine having to flee all you know and love just to have a chance to hear nothing humming in your head for hours on end.”

Since reports of it surfaced in 2011, the hum has been studied by the Canadian government, the University of Western Ontario and the University of Windsor.

Activists have done their own sleuthing.

Over six years, Mike Provost of Windsor, who helps run the Facebook page, has amassed more than 4,000 pages of daily observations about the duration, intensity and characteristics of the sound and the weather conditions at the time.

He has had to fend off skeptics and theorists who believe that the hum is related to secret tunneling, U.F.O.s or covert government operations, he said.

Mr. Provost, a retired insurance salesman, said his work was a blend of obsession and hobby. “I’ve got to keep going,” he said in a phone interview. “I’m not going to quit this.”

The hum is not limited to Windsor, a city of about 220,000 people on the Detroit River. Mr. Provost said he had received reports from McGregor, Ontario, 20 miles to the south, and from east of Cleveland, about 90 miles away.

Tracey Ramsey, a member of the Canadian House of Commons, said in a phone interview that she regularly gets calls from constituents about the health effects of the hum. Residents have complained of headaches, sleeplessness, irritability and depression, among other symptoms.

“It’s something they are desperate for an answer to,” she said.

Tracing the noise’s origins is complicated by who hears it, and when and where.

Tim Carpenter, a retired consulting engineer who specialized in geotechnical engineering and machine vibrations and is an administrator of the Facebook page, says not everyone can hear it.

“It’s as if you had a fire hose moving back and forth and the people who have the water falling on them hear the noise, and if you’re outside that stream, you don’t hear the noise,” he said.

Researchers have found no trends related to gender or age for the “hearers.”

Dr. Darius Kohan, the director of otology and neurotology at Lenox Hill Hospital and Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, said that the low-frequency hum was unlikely to cause long-term hearing damage but that it could be as debilitating as tinnitus, a persistent ringing in the ears.

Scott Barton, an assistant professor of music at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, said in a phone interview that infrasound, which is below 20 hertz, can create a sense of unease because it is unintelligible to human hearing but still detectable. While it is possible to be accustomed to certain noises (the hum of an air-conditioner, for example), this low-frequency noise is challenging because it has been so inconsistent, he said.

Seeking intervention by government regulators for the hum is difficult because regulations typically address decibel levels that can lead to hearing loss or damage, not those that can affect quality of life, Rebecca Smith, a sound engineer and doctoral student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who researches urban noise, wrote in an email.

“Think about the sound of a dog barking,” she said. “It doesn’t need to be loud enough to physically damage you to be really annoying and distracting.”

The University of Windsor report said the hum’s likely source was blast furnace operations on Zug Island on the Detroit River, which is densely packed with manufacturing. Activists complained that United States Steel, which operates the furnaces, has been uncooperative and secretive. A company spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

A principal investigator on the study, Professor Colin Novak, told CBC News in 2014 that researchers needed more time and cooperation from the American authorities to pinpoint the source. “It’s like chasing a ghost,” he said.

Hums similar to Windsor’s have been reported in at least a dozen communities worldwide, including in Australia, England and Scotland, the study said. In the United States, high-profile hums have been reported in Taos, N.M., and Kokomo, Ind.

Researchers studied the Taos hum in 1993 but did not pinpoint a source. Karina Armijo, the town’s director of marketing and tourism, said in a telephone interview that complaints had subsided.

“I have never heard the Taos hum, but I’ve heard stories of the Taos hum,” she said. “There’s not been a lot of buzz about it in the last few years.”

A 2003 study in Kokomo by the acoustics and vibration consulting company Acentech prompted two industrial plants to install silencing equipment, providing relief to some residents but not all, a 2008 paper about the study said.

“In fact, one affected resident had become so disturbed that she moved more than 700 miles away to relieve her symptoms,” it said.

Mr. Carpenter said it was possible a major source of the Windsor hum could be eliminated and other mechanical sources would replace it, entering the “heard spectrum.”

“It’s possible that no matter what is done to relieve or attenuate the noise, it might never be enough,” he said.

—Christopher Meele, New York Times, Feb. 19, 2018

[NWW note:  This story is reproduced here because the complaints are the same that many neighbors of large wind turbines make, and here they – as well as the physiologic effects of infrasound and low-frequency noise and the intrusive nature of pulsing noise (amplitude modulation), even at relatively low levels – are taken seriously. It might also be noted that across Lake St. Clair from Windsor there are hundreds of large wind turbines.]

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