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Effects of wind turbine noise on humans

Possible adverse health effects due to exposure of wind turbine noise have been discussed since the first modern electrical generating wind turbines were erected in the 1970’s. Despite this, only a few large epidemiological studies have been carried out. This paper is based on data from two Swedish studies and one Dutch study in which self-reported health and well-being were related to calculated A-weighted sound pressure levels outside the dwelling of each respondent. The consistencies in results from these studies make it possible to summarize the impact of wind turbine noise on people living in the vicinity of the turbines. The main adverse effect was annoyance due to the sound; the prevalence of noise annoyance increased with increasing sound pressure levels. Disturbance of sleep was furthermore related to wind turbine noise; the proportion of residents reporting sleep disturbance due to noise increased significantly at sound levels close to those recommended as highest acceptable levels at new installations. No other clear associations between sound levels and self reported health symptoms have hitherto been found. However, noise annoyance was correlated with several measurements of stress and lowered well-being. The study design does not allow causal conclusions, but the association indicates a possible hindrance of psycho-physiological restitution. Such a hindrance could in the long term lead to adverse health effects not detected here.

Presented at:  Third International Meeting on Wind Turbine Noise, Aalborg, Denmark, 17–19 June 2009

Eja Pedersen
Halmstad University, Halmstad, Sweden

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