Nissenbaum et al, Adverse Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines

Adverse Health Effects of Industrial Wind Turbines: A Preliminary Study 2011
Nissenbaum, Michael; Aramini, Jeff; and Hanning, Chris


Guidelines and regulations for the siting of industrial wind turbines (IWT) close to human habitation are generally predicated on the need to protect the sleep of the residents. The recommended setback distances and “safe” external noise levels make the assumptions that IWT noise can be regarded as similar to other forms of environmental noise (traffic, rail and aircraft) and is masked by ambient noise. There has been no in dependent verification that these assumptions are justified and that the safeguards are sufficient to protect sleep.

Anecdotal complaints of annoyance and health effects from IWT noise have grown in number in recent years, not least because turbine size has increased and they have been placed closer to population centers. The predominant symptom of health complaints is sleep disturbance (Frey & Hadden 2007; Pierpont 2009; van den Berg et al. 2008; WindVOICe 2010). The consequences of sleep disturbance and the contribution of environmental noise are well documented (WHO 2009).

Complaints of adverse health effects were made shortly after IWT installations at Mars Hill and Vinalhaven, Maine, USA, began operating. A preliminary survey at Mars Hill, comparing those living within 1,400 m with a control group living 3,000-6,000 m away showed that sleep disturbance was the main health effect (Nissenbaum 2011, submitted for publication). A further study was therefore carried out at both Mars Hill and Vinalhaven using validated questionnaires and comparing those living within 1.5 km of the turbines with a control group living 3,500-6,000m away.

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