Summary. Since 1997, 67 utility scale wind turbines with 149 megawatts of capacity have been installed at five locations in Vermont: Searsburg, Deerfield, Georgia, Lowell, and Sheffield. The Vermont Department of Health reviewed recent scientific publications to better understand whether wind turbine noise poses a risk to public health. The Department’s findings are summarized below.
- At noise levels studied, there was no evidence of a direct effect of wind turbine noise on any of the health outcomes considered.
- As wind turbine noise levels increase, the proportion of community members reporting that they are highly annoyed by the wind turbine noise also increases.
- Although wind turbine noise itself was not associated with any direct health effect, annoyance attributed to wind turbine noise by respondents was associated with migraines, dizziness, tinnitus, chronic pain, hair cortisol concentrations (an indicator of stress), blood pressure, and self-reported sleep quality.
- Efforts to minimize annoyance should address both noise and non-noise related factors. In order to minimize annoyance attributed to noise, an annual limit of 35 dBA coupled with community engagement could be considered. Community engagement could help to address prior attitudes toward wind turbine development, identify vulnerable populations and address concerns about visual annoyance (for example blinking aircraft warning lights), physical safety, and equitable distribution of economic benefits.
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