Evans, Prof. Emeritus Alun. Review of Wind Farms and Health

Review of Wind Farms and Health

According to the World Health Organisation’s recent report, ‘Night Noise Guidelines for Europe,’1 environmental noise is emerging as one of the major public health concerns of the twenty-first century. It observes that, “Many people have to adapt their lives to cope with the noise at night,” and the young and the old are particularly vulnerable. This is because hearing in young people is more acute and, in older people, a loss of hearing of higher sound frequencies renders them more susceptible to the effects of low frequency noise. It is a particularly troublesome feature of the noise generated by wind turbines due to its impulsive, intrusive and incessant nature. A recent case-control study conducted around two wind farms in New England has shown 2 that subjects living within 1.4 km of an IWT had worse sleep, were sleepier during the day, and had poorer SF36 Mental Component Scores compared to those living further than 1.4 km away. The study demonstrated a strongly significant association between reported sleep disturbance and ill health in those residing close to industrial wind turbines.

The major adverse health effects caused seem to be due to sleep disturbance and deprivation with the main culprits identified as loud noise in the auditory range, and low frequency noise, particularly infrasound. This is inaudible in the conventional sense, and is propagated over large distances and penetrates the fabric of dwellings, where it may be amplified. It is a particular problem at night, in the quiet rural settings most favoured for wind farms, because infrasound persists long after the higher frequencies have been dissipated. …

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Professor Evans is an epidemiologist and Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has worked closely for more than 20 years with the French WHO MONICA project centres in Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse in comparisons of coronary heart disease, risk factors and dietary factors, including alcohol intake. Emerging from this work were the ECTIM case-control study and the PRIME Study, a prospective study established in France and Northern Ireland that recruited 10,600 middle-aged men. Follow up is still underway.

Since 1998 Professor Evans has coordinated the MORGAM (MOnica, Risk, Genetics, Archiving and Monograph) Project. MORGAM is now part of Cardiogenics, funded under FP 6, and ENGAGE, funded under FP 7