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Wind turbine noise can be bad for hearing

Noise from wind turbines has been labelled a potential health hazard by researchers at the UN.

The power-generating blades were included in a comprehensive assessment of the harm noise causes to humans.

The report by the UN’s World Health Organisation found that noise cost a million healthy years of life across western Europe annually – with road traffic the biggest culprit. Onshore wind turbines have been championed by politicians as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. Jeremy Corbyn told the Labour conference last month that he would hugely increase wind power in a ‘green jobs revolution’.

Experts at WHO looked at five sources of noise: road traffic, railways, aviation, wind turbines and leisure, from headphones and live music. The report warned of health effects including lack of sleep, hearing loss, tinnitus and stress as well as worse heart health and blood pressure.

Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said: ‘Noise pollution in our towns and cities is increasing, blighting the lives of many European citizens. More than a nuisance, excessive noise is a health risk – contributing to cardiovascular diseases, for example.

‘We need to act on the many sources of noise pollution – from motorised vehicles to loud nightclubs and concerts – to protect our health. The new WHO guidelines define exposure levels to noise that should not be exceeded to minimise adverse health effects and we urge European policymakers to make good use of this guidance for the benefit of all Europeans.’

Stephen Stansfeld, a professor at Queen Mary’s Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, chaired the guidelines development group at the WHO. He said: ‘These guidelines have been developed based on the growing body of evidence in the field of environmental noise research.

‘They aim to support public health policy that will protect communities from the adverse effects of noise, as well as stimulate further research into the health effects of different types of noise.’