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Long-term wind turbine noise exposure and the risk of incident atrial fibrillation in the Danish Nurse cohort 

Author:  | Denmark, Health


  • Long-term exposure to wind turbine noise was linked to incidence of atrial fibrillation in the Danish Nurse Cohort of 28,731 nurses.
  • Nurses exposed to wind turbine noise levels ≥20 dB, compared to <20 dB at night had a 30% higher risk of AF.
  • Relatively few nurses were exposed to wind turbine noise: 13% lived within a 6,000 m radius of a wind turbine and 5% of all nurses were exposed to levels >25 dB.


BACKGROUND: The potential health effects related to wind turbine noise (WTN) have received increased focus during the past decades, but evidence is sparse. We examined the association between long-term exposure to wind turbine noise and incidence of atrial fibrillation (AF).

METHODS: First ever hospital admission of AF amongst 28,731 female nurses in the Danish Nurse Cohort were identified in the Danish National Patient register until ultimo 2013. WTN levels at residential addresses between 1982 and 2013 were estimated using the Nord2000 noise propagation model, as the annual means of Lden, Lday, Levening and Lnight at the most exposed façade. Time-varying Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to examine the association between the 11-, 5- and 1-year rolling means of WTN levels and AF incidence.

RESULTS: 1430 nurses developed AF by end of follow-up in 2013. Mean (standard deviation) baseline residential noise levels amongst exposed nurses were 26.3 (6.7) dB and slightly higher in those who developed AF (27.3 (7.31) dB), than those who didn’t (26.2 (6.6)). We observed a 30% statistically significant increased risk (95% CI: 1.05-1.61) of AF amongst nurses exposed to long-term (11-year running mean) WTN levels ≥20 dB(A) at night compared to nurses exposed to levels <20 dB(A). Similar effects were observed with day (HR 1.25; 95% CI: 1.01-1.54), and evening (HR 1.25; 95% CI: 1.01-1.54) noise levels. CONCLUSIONS: We found suggestive evidence of an association between long-term exposure to WTN and AF amongst female nurses. However, interpretation should be cautious as exposure levels were low.

Elvira V. Bräuner, Jeanette T. Jørgensen, Anne Katrine Duun-Henriksen, Zorana J. Andersen
Section of Environmental Health, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Claus Backalarz, Jens E. Laursen, Torben H. Pedersen
DELTA Acoustics, Hørsholm, Denmark
Mette K. Simonsen
Diakonissestiftelsen; and The Parker Institute, Copenhagen University Hospital, Bispebjerg, Frederiksberg, Denmark

Environ Int. 2019 Sep;130:104915. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.104915. Epub 2019 Jul 22.

Download original document: “Long-term wind turbine noise exposure and the risk of incident atrial fibrillation in the Danish Nurse cohort

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