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Resource Documents: Health (449 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:  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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Date added:  February 2, 2018
HealthPrint storyE-mail story

Health effects of wind turbines in working environments – a scoping review

Author:  Freiberg, Alice; et al.

Objectives. The wind industry is a growing economic sector, yet there is no overview summarizing all exposures emanating from wind turbines throughout their life cycle that may pose a risk for workers` health. The aim of this scoping review was to survey and outline the body of evidence around the health effects of wind turbines in working environments in order to identify research gaps and to highlight the need for further research.

Methods. A scoping review with a transparent and systematic procedure was conducted using a comprehensive search strategy. Two independent reviewers conducted most of the review steps.

Results. Twenty articles of varying methodical quality were included. Our findings of the included studies indicate that substances used in rotor blade manufacture (“>epoxy resin and styrene) cause skin disorders, and respectively, respiratory ailments and eye complaints; exposure to onshore wind turbine noise leads to annoyance, sleep disorders, and lowered general health; finally working in the wind industry is associated with a considerable accident rate, resulting in injuries or fatalities.

Conclusions. Due to the different work activities during the life cycle of a wind turbine and the distinction between on- and offshore work, there are no specific overall health effects of working in the wind sector. Previous research has primarily focused on evaluating the effects of working in the wind industry on skin disorders, accidents, and noise consequences. There is a need for further research, particularly in studying the effect of wind turbine work on psychological and musculoskeletal disorders, work-related injury and accident rates, and health outcomes in later life cycle phases.

Freiberg Alice, C. Schefter, M. Girbig, V.C. Murta, and A. Seidler
Boysen TU Dresden Graduate School, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment, and Health. Published on line Jan 23, 2018. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3711

Download original document: “Health effects of wind turbines in working environments – a scoping review

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Date added:  January 29, 2018
Germany, Health, NoisePrint storyE-mail story

Understanding stress effects of wind turbine noise – the integrated approach

Author:  Pohl, Johannes; Gabriel, Joachim; and Hübner, Gundula

To better understand causes and effects of wind turbine (WT) noise, this study combined the methodology of stress psychology with noise measurement to an integrated approach. In this longitudinal study, residents of a wind farm in Lower Saxony were interviewed on two occasions (2012, 2014) and given the opportunity to use audio equipment to record annoying noise. On average, both the wind farm and road traffic were somewhat annoying. More residents complained about physical and psychological symptoms due to traffic noise (16%) than to WT noise (10%, two years later 7%). Noise annoyance was minimally correlated with distance to the closest WT and sound pressure level, but moderately correlated with fair planning. The acoustic analysis identified amplitude-modulated noise as a major cause of the complaints. The planning and construction process has proven to be central − it is recommended to make this process as positive as possible. It is promising to develop the research approach in order to study the psychological and acoustic causes of WT noise annoyance even more closely. To further analysis of amplitude modulation we recommend longitudinal measurements in several wind farms to increase the data base ─ in the sense of “Homo sapiens monitoring”.

Johannes Pohl, Joachim Gabriel, and Gundula Hübner
Institute of Psychology (J.P.), Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle (Saale); MSH Medical School Hamburg (J.P., G.H.), Hamburg; and UL DEWI (UL International GmbH) (J.G.), Wilhelmshaven, Germany

Energy Policy 112 (2018) 119–128
doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2017.10.007

Download original document: “Understanding stress effects of wind turbine noise – the integrated approach

[NWW note:  The researchers note that their findings suggest that German emission protection laws are generally effective in establishing adequate setbacks. For “general” residential areas, the noise limit is 40dBA outside at night. For “purely” residential areas, spas, nursing homes, and hospitals it is 35dBA.]

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