Resource Documents: Health (431 items)
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.
Author: Vermont Department of Health
Summary. Since 1997, 67 utility scale wind turbines with 149 megawatts of capacity have been installed at five locations in Vermont: Searsburg, Deerfield, Georgia, Lowell, and Sheffield. The Vermont Department of Health reviewed recent scientific publications to better understand whether wind turbine noise poses a risk to public health. The Department’s findings are summarized below.
- At noise levels studied, there was no evidence of a direct effect of wind turbine noise on any of the health outcomes considered.
- As wind turbine noise levels increase, the proportion of community members reporting that they are highly annoyed by the wind turbine noise also increases.
- Although wind turbine noise itself was not associated with any direct health effect, annoyance attributed to wind turbine noise by respondents was associated with migraines, dizziness, tinnitus, chronic pain, hair cortisol concentrations (an indicator of stress), blood pressure, and self-reported sleep quality.
- Efforts to minimize annoyance should address both noise and non-noise related factors. In order to minimize annoyance attributed to noise, an annual limit of 35 dBA coupled with community engagement could be considered. Community engagement could help to address prior attitudes toward wind turbine development, identify vulnerable populations and address concerns about visual annoyance (for example blinking aircraft warning lights), physical safety, and equitable distribution of economic benefits.
Download original document: “Wind Turbine Noise & Human Health: A Review of the Scientific Literature”
Author: Evans, Alun
Environmental noise pollution is an ever-increasing problem. The various sources: Aircraft, Road Traffic and Wind Farms are reviewed, but the latter source, because of the intrusive, impulsive and incessant nature of the sound emitted, is the major focus of this review. Wind turbines produce a range of sound but it is the Infrasound and low frequency noise which deserves special attention. Infrasound is considered to be below the range of human hearing so it is not measured in routine noise assessments in the wind farm planning process. There is, however, evidence that many can register it and a sizeable minority is sensitive, or becomes sensitised to it. The actual route of transmission still requires elucidation. The net effect of the entire range of noise produced is interference with sleep and sleep deprivation. Sleep, far from being a luxury is vitally important to health and insufficient sleep, in the long term, is associated with a spectrum of diseases, particularly Cardiovascular. The physiological benefits of sleep are reviewed, as is the range of diseases which the sleep-deprived are predisposed to. Governments, anxious to meet Green targets and often receiving most of their advice on health matters from the wind industry, must commission independent studies so that the Health and Human Rights of their rural citizens is not infringed. Public Health, in particular, must remember its roots in Utilitarianism which condoned the acceptance of some Collateral Damage provided that the greatest happiness of the greatest number was ensured. The degree of Collateral Damage caused by wind farms should be totally unacceptable to Public Health which must, like good government, fully exercise the Precautionary Principle. The types of study which should be considered are discussed. Indeed, the father of Utilitarian Philosophy, Jeremy Bentham, urged that government policy should be fully evaluated.
Alun Evans, Centre for Public Health, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK
Open Journal of Social Sciences 2017;5:80-109. doi: 10.4236/jss.2017.55007.
Author: Tran Ba Huy, Patrice; and French Academy of Medicine
“[L]e caractère intermittent, aléatoire, imprévisible, envahissant du bruit généré par la rotation des pales, survenant lorsque le vent se lève, variant avec son intensité, interdisant toute habituation, peut indubitablement perturber l’état psychologique de ceux qui y sont exposés. Ce sont notamment les modulations d’amplitudes causées par le passage des pales devant le mât qui sont dénoncées comme particulièrement dérangeantes. [The intermittent, random, unpredictable, invasive character of the noise generated by the rotation of the blades, arising when the wind rises and varying along with its intensity, preventing habituation, can undoubtedly disturb the psychological state of those who are exposed to it. These include amplitude modulation caused by the passage of the blades in front of the mast, which is noted as particularly disturbing.]
“[L]e groupe de travail recommande: … de revenir pour ce qui concerne leur bruit (et tout en laissant les éoliennes sous le régime des Installations Classées pour le Protection de l’Environnement) au décret du 31 août 2006 relatif à la lutte contre les bruits du voisinage (relevant du code de Santé publique et non de celui de l’Environnement), ramenant le seuil de déclenchement des mesures d’émergence à 30 dB A à l’extérieur des habitations et à 25 à l’intérieur.” [The working group recommends returning to the decree of 31 August 2006 concerning the fight against neighborhood noise, reducing the the threshold for emergency measures to [ambient levels] 30 dBA outside residences and 25 dBA inside [limiting wind turbine noise to +5 dBA in daytime (7am–10pm) and +3 dBA at night (10pm–7am)].]
L’extension programmée de la filière éolienne terrestre soulève un nombre croissant de plaintes de la part d’associations de riverains faisant état de troubles fonctionnels réalisant ce qu’il est convenu d’appeler le « syndrome de l’éolienne ». Le but de ce rapport était d’en analyser l’impact sanitaire réel et de proposer des recommandations susceptibles d’en diminuer la portée éventuelle.
Si l’éolien terrestre ne semble pas induire directement des pathologies organiques,il affecte au travers de ses nuisances sonores et surtout visuelles la qualité de vie d’une partie des riverains et donc leur « état de complet bien-être physique, mental et social » lequel définit aujourd’hui le concept de santé.
Dans le double souci d’améliorer l’acceptation du fait éolien et d’atténuer son retentissement sanitaire, direct ou indirect, le groupe de travail recommande :
- de s’assurer que lors de la procédure d’autorisation l’enquête publique soit conduite avec le souci d’informer pleinement les populations riveraines, de faciliter la concertation entre elles et les exploitants, et de faciliter la saisine du préfet par les plaignants,
- de n’autoriser l’implantation de nouvelles éoliennes que dans des zones ayant fait l’objet d’un consensus de la population concernée quant à leur impact visuel, sachant que l’augmentation de leur taille et leur extension programmée risquent d’altérer durablement le paysage du pays et de susciter de la part de la population riveraine – et générale – opposition et ressentiment avec leurs conséquences psychiques et somatiques,
- de systématiser les contrôles de conformité acoustique dont la périodicité doit être précisée dans tous les arrêtés d’autorisation et non au cas par cas,
- d’encourager les innovations technologiques susceptibles de restreindre et de « brider » en temps réel le bruit émis par les éoliennes et d’en équiper les éoliennes les plus anciennes,
- de ramener le seuil de déclenchement des mesures d’émergence à 30 dBA à l’extérieur des habitations et à 25 à l’intérieur, (tout en laissant les éoliennes sous le régime des Installations Classées pour le Protection de l’Environnement),
- d’entreprendre, comme recommandé dans le précédent rapport, une étude épidémiologique prospective sur les nuisances sanitaires.
May 9, 2017
Patrice Tran Ba Huy, Membre de l’Académie de Médecine
Download original document: “Nuisances Sanitaires des Éoliennes Terrestres”
See also: “Le retentissement du fonctionnement des éoliennes sur la santé de l’homme” (Académie Nationale de Médecine, 2006)
Author: Bronzaft, Arline
In her chapter “Sources of Noise” in Noise and Health [New York Academy of Medicine, 1991], Annette Zaner writes that sounds have been environmental pollutants for thousands of years, citing examples of stories of loud music in the Old Testament and noisy delivery wagons in ancient times. The Industrial Revolution and urbanization in more recent times raised the decibel levels in our communities, especially with the growth in transportation on the roads, on the rails and in the air, as well as the growth of noise polluting products. The proliferation of boom cars, cell phones and wind turbines during the past twenty years has made our world even noisier. Studies have been carried out that have demonstrated the potential impact of these noises on our mental and physical health, and there have been some efforts to lessen some of the intrusive sounds, e.g. aircraft and road traffic noise, but there is still too little attention paid to the deleterious effects of noise. While noise complaints top the list of complaints in major cities worldwide and noise even threatens the natural sound systems of our planet, there is no movement globally to address the noise pollutant. The following paper will examine the research linking noise to health effects, question why governments have not seriously attempted to lower noise levels and suggest ways to lessen the din. Doing so will not only be beneficial to our health and well-being but it would also be wise economically.
Arline L. Bronzaft
Professor Emerita, City University of New York
Open Journal of Social Sciences 2017; 5: 108-120.
Download original document: “Impact of noise on health: The divide between policy and science”
[T]he literature supporting the adverse effects of noise on mental and physical health has grown in the last fifteen years, underscoring the need to move ahead with federal noise legislation. …
When Dr. Nina Pierpont wrote her book reporting her findings of vertigo, dizziness, sleep disturbance and other physiological disturbances in a group of 38 residents living near wind turbines, she was widely criticized for a very limited, less than scientific study [Wind Turbine Syndrome, K-Selected Books, 2009]. Dr. Pierpont’s study calls for replication but it should not have been dismissed. In science we start with exploratory research on small numbers and then we move on to studies with larger numbers and greater control of the variables. For example, in the New York Times article on December 15th 2016, entitled “Your Brain Versus ‘Harold’,” the author reports on a study relating fitness to thinking in older people that had been conducted on sixty older men. The article indicates that further research is needed but still gives credence to the results reported. One obvious shortcoming of the study is that it only included male subjects but the author of this article in the introductory paragraph generalizes the findings to all “older people.” The New York Times in its Tuesday Science section frequently reports findings of studies with small numbers and less than ideal control as does the mass media. The findings of these studies are suggestive, although treated more seriously in the media, and should lead to further research. Dr. Pierpont’s study also should be a call for additional research exploring the relationship between wind turbine sounds and visual effects and health impacts.
In chapter 5 of Why Noise Matters there is a discussion of several studies that have found that people get more annoyed by wind turbines than noise from road traffic and other industrial sounds. Why Noise Matters concludes that noise need not stop the development of onshore wind turbines, especially if carefully located, but unless the noise issue is seriously addressed, it will harm people and curb the development. Garret Keiser in his book The Unwanted Sound of Everything [Public Affairs, 2010] states that the “noise effects of wind turbines have been routinely denied by ignorant or unscrupulous developers,” supporting his conclusion with studies affirming this statement as well as his experiences personally visiting residents in Maine who described to him the impacts that nearby wind turbines had on their lives.