Resource Documents: Noise (574 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: Smith, Michael; Ögren, Mikael; Thorsson, Pontus; Pedersen, Eja; and Persson Waye, Kerstin
In accordance with the EU energy policy, wind turbines are becoming increasingly widespread throughout Europe, and this trend is expected to continue globally. More people will consequently live close to wind turbines in the future, and hence may be exposed to wind farm noise. Of particular concern is the potential for nocturnal noise to contribute towards sleep disturbance of nearby residents. To examine the issue, we are implementing a project titled Wind Turbine Noise Effects on Sleep (WiTNES). In a pilot study described in this paper, we performed an initial investigation into the particular acoustical characteristics of wind turbine noise that might have the potential to disturb sleep. Six young, healthy individuals spent 5 nights in our sound exposure laboratory. During the final 3 nights of the study, the participants were exposed to wind turbine noise, which was synthesised based on analysis of field measurements. Exposures involved periods of different amplitude modulation strengths, the presence or absence of beats, different blade rotational periods, and outdoor LAEq,8h=45 or 50 dB with indoor levels based on the windows being fully closed or slightly open. Physiological measurements indicate that nights with low frequency band amplitude modulation and LAEq,8h=45 dB, slightly open window (LAEq,8h=33 dB indoors) impacted sleep the most. The presence of beats and strong amplitude modulation contributed to sleep disturbance, reflected by more electrophysiological awakenings, increased light sleep and wakefulness, and reduced REM and deep sleep. The impact on sleep by these acoustic characteristics is currently the focus of interest in ongoing studies.
Michael G. Smith, Mikael Ögren, Pontus Thorsson, Eja Pedersen, and Kerstin Persson Waye
University of Gothenburg, Sweden (MGS, MÖ, KPW).
Chalmers University of Technology Sweden (PT).
Lund University, Sweden (EP).
Presented at the 22nd International Congress on Acoustics, Buenos Aires, 5–9 September 2016
Author: WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff
This review was commissioned by the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) in spring 2015 and finalised before DECC became part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in July 2016.
The research has reviewed the evidence on the response to amplitude modulation (AM) in relation to wind turbines. It was undertaken by a research team lead by WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff, who are responsible for the overall editorial content of the report, and supported by three independent external reviewers.
The review considered the robustness of relevant dose-response relationships and how, in a policy context, the level(s) of AM in a sample of noise data should be interpreted. In particular, it considered at what point AM causes a significant adverse impact and has recommended how excessive AM from wind turbines might be controlled through the use of an appropriate planning condition.
The final report addresses comments raised by three peer reviewers, appointed by DECC. The reviewers, from Denmark and the Netherlands, are experts in noise and health.
While this research does not represent planning guidance, BEIS encourages developers and planning authorities in England to consider this research when determining if an AM condition would be appropriate.
The contractor worked closely with the Institute of Acoustics’ AM working group, who in August 2016 recommended a preferred metric and methodology for quantifying and assessing the level of AM in a sample of wind turbine noise data [click here for review from the Independent Noise Working Group].
Author: Palmer, William
Introduction. A common regulatory acceptance criterion for wind turbine installation in Canada is that sound pressure level does not exceed 40 dBA outside a home when the wind speed at 10 metres elevation does not exceed 4 metres per second. A clue to the ineffectiveness of this criterion can be seen from over 2700 complaints filed in Ontario with regulators by residents living in homes where acoustic conditions were predicted in approved models to comply with the current criterion. Residents noted the intrusiveness of an imposed sound higher in amplitude and different in quality than the pre-existing background. Residents reported disrupted sleep, and adverse health consequences. Fundamental premises of Environmental Protection Acts (EPA) are that emissions of a contaminant such as noise should not cause an adverse effect including loss of enjoyment of normal use of property, or annoyance that lead to human health impacts. …
Discussion. The subject of amplitude modulation of wind turbine noise emissions (otherwise described as a cyclical noise rising and falling in magnitude) has been a principal focus of wind turbine noise international conferences in Glasgow (2015) and Denver (2013). Monitoring of the sound inside homes displays a different character than outside, showing pulses with peak to trough amplitudes exceeding 5 dB at frequencies that are within the audible range. A simple example shows that dBA weighting does not adequately reflect perception and annoyance. White noise at 40dBA has a very different perception than pink noise at 40 dBA.
William K.G. Palmer, TRI-LEA-EM, Paisley, Ontario
Canadian Acoustics – Acoustique canadienne Vol. 44 No. 3 (2016) – pp. 42-43
Wind Turbine Noise and Human Health: A Four-Decade History of Evidence that Wind Turbines Pose Risks
Author: Punch, Jerry; and James, Richard
The primary aims of the linked article are to provide our reference sources for much of the information in that earlier series [background, evidence, and how the ear and brain process infrasound], as well as to update that information. We do so by addressing 12 specific position statements frequently made by the wind industry, its trade associations, and other surrogates. We address these position statements, many of which are revealed to be little more than unfounded talking points, by a comprehensive review of the literature, including that from industry proponents and from those who are independent of the industry.
This article is the culmination of about 15 years of our combined experience with wind turbine noise issues. We first submitted an article resembling the current one to an international journal, Noise & Health, where it received multiple reviews by a single reviewer. We addressed all but two of that reviewer’s criticisms, namely that the manuscript was too lengthy for publication in the journal and the reviewer’s insistence that we accept the notion that infrasound at levels produced by wind turbines cannot cause adverse health effects. Underlying that reviewer’s position was the belief that “What you can’t hear, you can’t feel.”
In fact, decades of research have shown that the dynamically amplitude-modulated short bursts of energy, or pressure pulsations, are a characteristic of all modern industrial wind turbine emissions. These pressure peaks can be perceived by humans at levels far below the commonly accepted thresholds of perception and can lead to adverse symptoms such as sleep disturbance, headaches, tinnitus, ear pain, vertigo, and nausea.
The editor of Noise & Health offered an additional review cycle by a second reviewer. We chose instead to withdraw the manuscript from consideration because we were unwilling to either shorten it considerably or to mischaracterize the literature on the subject at hand.
We are grateful to Hearing Health & Technology Matters for allowing us to share this information through its widely accessible website.
This paper has been reviewed both by the anonymous Noise & Health reviewer and by three other reviewers who have substantial professional experience in the area of wind turbine noise. We gratefully acknowledge the helpful contributions of Keith Johnson, Esq., Michael Nissenbaum, MD, and Daniel Shepherd, PhD.
Mr. Johnson provided a review from the perspective of an attorney who represents interveners in wind turbine siting cases. Dr. Nissenbaum provided a review from the perspective of a medical professional and expert in how ionizing and non-ionizing radiation affects humans. Dr. Shepherd provided a review from the perspective of a psychoacoustician with experience in how wind turbine sound affects people. Each of these reviewers’ comments on earlier versions of our manuscript led to the final document. The opinions or assertions contained herein, however, are the personal views of the authors and are not to be construed as reflecting the views of Michigan State University or Central Michigan University.
The article’s unusual length stems not only from the number of topics covered, but also from our desire to quote literally and liberally from researchers and others on matters related to some of the key points in support of the link between wind turbine noise and adverse health effects. Given the length, interested readers will likely require multiple sessions to read the article in its entirety.
Even though wind turbine noise does not normally cause hearing loss, we believe that audiologists, particularly those interested in community noise, should embrace the notion that all forms of noise, if sufficiently intense and prolonged, can be detrimental to public health. Audiologists should also be sensitive to the non-auditory aspects of acoustic energy, including dynamically modulated infrasound and low-frequency sound.
It is worth noting that two of the seven co-authors of the original white-paper report of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA), which promoted the idea that wind turbines were harmless, were audiologists. We believe that the basic conclusions of that paper, which was not peer reviewed and written by a panel hand-picked by wind industry trade associations, unjustifiably favored the wind industry. It is particularly noteworthy that those major wind industry associations have acknowledged the audiology profession as having a credible say on the issue of wind turbine noise.
Interestingly, now that the tide is turning against the wind industry in many ways and in many places, its advocates are trying to discredit the views of audiologists, physicians, acousticians, and others who speak out in opposition of wind-energy development in populated areas. Concerned audiologists, especially those with expertise in cochlear and vestibular responses to noise and vibration, need to be heard on this issue.
Finally, let it not be said that either of us believes in making any less than the best possible effort to develop clean and efficient sources of energy. Rather, we hope that our article will be instrumental in promoting public health through a better understanding of the issues underlying the potentially harmful effects of audible and inaudible noise from industrial wind turbines when the turbines are sited too close to where people live and work.
Jerry Punch, Professor Emeritus, Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Michigan State
University, East Lansing
Richard James, E-Coustic Solutions; and Adjunct Professor, Department of Communication Disorders,
Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant
Many expert-review panels and some individual authors, in the U.S. and internationally, have taken the position that there is little literature to support concerns about adverse health effects (AHEs) from noise emitted by industrial wind turbines (IWTs). In this review, we systematically examine the literature that bears on some of the particular claims that are commonly made in support of the view that a causal link is non-existent. Investigation of the veracity of those claims requires that multiple topics be addressed, and the following specific topics were targeted for this review: (1) emissions of infrasound and low-frequency noise (ILFN) by IWTs, (2) the perception of ILFN by humans, (3) the evidentiary bases for establishing a causative link between IWTs and AHEs, as well as the physiological bases for such a link, (4) recommended setback distances and permissible noise levels, (5) the relationship between annoyance and health, (6) alternative causes of the reported health problems, (7) recommended methods for measuring infrasound, (8) foundations for establishing a medical diagnosis of AHEs due to IWTs, (9) research designs useful in establishing causation, (10) the role of psychological expectations as an explanation for the reported adverse effects, (11) the prevalence of AHEs in individuals exposed to IWTs, and (12) the scope and quality of literature addressing the link between IWT noise and AHEs. The reviewed evidence overwhelmingly supports the notion that acoustic emissions from IWTs is a leading cause of AHEs in a substantial segment of the population.