Influences of low-frequency and other noises produced by wind turbines: An epidemiological literature review.

Abstract

Objectives Due to its' environment-friendly and clean energy characteristics, wind power has been increasingly used globally, particularly in advanced countries. However, concerns about health hazards, especially due to low-frequency and other noises generated from wind turbines, have been reported repeatedly. In order to manage adverse health effects appropriately, regulatory standards or guidelines that consider the health of residents need to be developed. To provide a scientific basis for the development of such regulatory standards and guidelines, this paper conducted a literature review to analyze epidemiological studies involving residents living in the vicinity of wind farms.Methods Using the PubMED database, epidemiological papers that examined the health effects of noises produced by wind turbines were searched and collected. Additional papers were collected from the abstracts presented at relevant international academic conferences such as the Inter-Noise 2013 and Wind Turbine Noise 2015. An evidence table comprising the study design, subjects, exposure assessment, outcomes, confounders, and research results of each selected study was created.Results A total of 11 papers were collected (2 of which were abstracts from the international academic conferences). These studies reported outcomes such as perception of noises, annoyance caused by the noises, and the association of the noises with stress and sleeplessness. Significant associations between the noises or annoyance produced by wind turbines and subjective adverse health effects were reported repeatedly. Two studies reported an odds ratio of 1.1 for an increase of 1 dB in the A-weighted sound pressure level as a factor representing the influence level. For other factors, it was not possible to compare the magnitude of the impact among the collected studies. Individual attitudes toward wind power and landscapes, economic benefits of wind farms, visibility of wind turbines, sensitivity to sounds, and concerns over health hazards were reported as confounders.Conclusion Significant associations between the noises or annoyance produced by wind turbines and subjective adverse health effects were reported repeatedly. However, there was insufficient evidence to conclude whether the annoyance was caused by the psychological response to the construction of wind farms or by the actual exposure to noises generated by wind farms.

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