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Using residential proximity to wind turbines as an alternative exposure measure to investigate the association between wind turbines and human health  

Author:  | Health, Noise, Ontario, Prince Edward Island

[Abstract] This analysis uses data from the Community Noise and Health Study developed by Statistics Canada to investigate the association between residential proximity to wind turbines and health-related outcomes in a dataset that also provides objective measures of wind turbine noise. The findings indicate that residential proximity to wind turbines is correlated with annoyance and health-related quality of life measures. These associations differ in some respects from associations with noise measurements. Results can be used to support discussions between communities and wind-turbine developers regarding potential health effects of wind turbines.

[Results] Results suggest that proximity to wind turbines is inversely associated with the environment domain quality of life score (β = 1.23, SE = 0.145, p = 0.046). This association suggests that every kilometre a person lives further away from a wind turbine is associated with a 1.23 point increase in score on the environmental health quality of life scale. A higher score is indicative of a higher environmental quality of life. … Distance to wind turbines was also found to be strongly associated with increased annoyance (OR = 0.19; 95% CI  = 0.07, 0.53, p = 0.001). This suggests that the odds of reporting being annoyed by a turbine are reduced by about 20% for every kilometer a person lives further away from a wind turbine. …

[Discussion] These results show that living closer in proximity to wind turbines is negatively correlated with self-rated environmental quality of life and physical health quality of life. These findings suggest that the mechanism of effect may not be noise, or not noise alone, and may include visual sight, vibrations, shadow flicker, sub-audible low frequency sound, or mechanisms that include individual subjective experiences and attitudes towards wind turbines. … Our findings strengthen the argument that wind turbines are associated with annoyance, as this association is now found with both modelled A-weighted sound pressure levels and with residential distance to wind turbines. Other research has found that individuals reporting annoyance due to environmental noise also report health conditions including ischemic heart disease, depression, and migraines.

Rebecca Barry and Nancy Kreiger, University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sandra I. Sulsky, Ramboll Environ US, Amherst, Massachusetts

J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 143 (6), June 2018, 3278–3282
doi: 10.1121/1.5039840

Download original document: “Using residential proximity to wind turbines as an alternative exposure measure to investigate the association between wind turbines and human health

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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