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Human response to wind turbine noise – perception, annoyance and moderating factors  

Author:  | Health, Noise, Sweden

(Dissertation, 2007, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Institute of Medicine, Göteborg University Sahlgrenska Institute)

This doctoral thesis is based on four papers:

I. Pedersen, E., and Persson Waye, K. Perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise—a dose-response relationship. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 2004, 116, 3460–3470. [Download.]

II. Pedersen, E., Hallberg, L.R.-M., and Persson Waye K. Living in the vicinity of wind turbines – grounded theory study. Qualitative Research in Psychology. In press. [Published: 2007, 4, 49-63. Download]

III. Pedersen, E., and Persson Waye, K. Wind turbine noise, annoyance and self-reported health and wellbeing in different living environments. Occupational and Environmental Medicine [2007, 64, 480-486]. Published online, 1 Mar 2007. [Download.]

IV. Pedersen, E., and Larsman, P. The impact of visual factors on noise annoyance among people living in the vicinity of wind turbines. Submitted. [Published: Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2008, 28, 379-389. Download.]

[Abstract] Results  Dose-response relationships were found both for perception of noise and for noise annoyance in relation to A-weighted sound pressure levels (SPLs). The risk of annoyance was enhanced among respondents who could see at least one turbine from their dwelling and among those living in a rural in comparison with a suburban area. Noise from wind turbines was appraised as an intrusion of privacy among people who expected quiet and peace in their living environment. Negative experiences that led to feelings of inferiority added to the distress. Sound characteristics describing the amplitude modulated aerodynamic sound were appraised as the most annoying (swishing, whistling and pulsating/throbbing). Wind turbines were judged as environmentally friendly, efficient and necessary, but also as ugly and unnatural. Being negative towards the visual impact of the wind turbines on the landscape scenery, rather than towards wind turbines as such, was strongly associated with annoyance. Self-reported health impairment was not correlated to SPL, while decreased well-being was associated with noise annoyance. Indications of possible hindrance to psycho-physiological restoration were observed.

Conclusions  Wind turbine noise is easily perceived and is annoying even at low A-weighted SPLs. This could be due to perceived incongruence between the characteristics of wind turbine noise and the background sound. Wind turbines are furthermore prominent objects whose rotational movement attracts the eye. Multimodal sensory effects or negative aesthetic response could enhance the risk of noise annoyance. Adverse reactions could possibly lead to stress-related symptoms due to prolonged physiological arousal and hindrance to psychophysiological restoration. The observed differences in prevalence of noise annoyance between living environments make it necessary to assess separate dose-response relationships for different types of landscapes.

Download original document: “Human response to wind turbine noise

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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