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‘Wind turbine syndrome’: fact or fiction?  

Author: 

Abstract

Objective: Symptoms, including tinnitus, ear pain and vertigo, have been reported following exposure to wind turbine noise. This review addresses the effects of infrasound and low frequency noise and questions the existence of ‘wind turbine syndrome’.

Design: This review is based on a search for articles published within the last 10 years, conducted using the PubMed database and Google Scholar search engine, which included in their title or abstract the terms ‘wind turbine’, ‘infrasound’ or ‘low frequency noise’.

Results: There is evidence that infrasound has a physiological effect on the ear. Until this effect is fully understood, it is impossible to conclude that wind turbine noise does not cause any of the symptoms described. However, many believe that these symptoms are related largely to the stress caused by unwanted noise exposure.

Conclusion

There is ample evidence of symptoms arising in individuals exposed to wind turbine noise. Some researchers maintain that the effects of wind turbine syndrome are clearly just examples of the well known stress effects of exposure to noise, as displayed by a small proportion of the population. However, there is an increasing body of evidence suggesting that infrasound and low frequency noise have physiological effects on the ear. Until these effects are fully understood, it is impossible to state conclusively that exposure to wind turbine noise does not cause any of the symptoms described. The effects of infrasound and low frequency noise require further investigation.

The Journal of Laryngology & Otology. 2013 doi:10.1017/S0022215112002964

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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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