Effects Related to Wind Turbine Noise Exposure: a Systematic Review
By Jesper Hvass Schmidt, Mads Klokker
As published on www.PLOS.org
Wind turbine noise exposure and suspected health-related effects thereof have attracted substantial attention. Various symptoms such as sleep-related problems, headache, tinnitus and vertigo have been described by subjects suspected of having been exposed to wind turbine noise.
This review was conducted systematically with the purpose of identifying any reported associations between wind turbine noise exposure and suspected health-related effects.
A search of the scientific literature concerning the health-related effects of wind turbine noise was conducted on PubMed, Web of Science, Google Scholar and various other Internet sources.
Study Eligibility Criteria
All studies investigating suspected health-related outcomes associated with wind turbine noise exposure were included.
Wind turbines emit noise, including low-frequency noise, which decreases incrementally with increases in distance from the wind turbines. Likewise, evidence of a dose-response relationship between wind turbine noise linked to noise annoyance, sleep disturbance and possibly even psychological distress was present in the literature.
Currently, there is no further existing statistically-significant evidence indicating any association between wind turbine noise exposure and tinnitus, hearing loss, vertigo or headache.
Selection bias and information bias of differing magnitudes were found to be present in all current studies investigating wind turbine noise exposure and adverse health effects. Only articles published in English, German or Scandinavian languages were reviewed.
Exposure to wind turbines does seem to increase the risk of annoyance and self-reported sleep disturbance in a dose-response relationship. There appears, though, to be a tolerable level of around LAeq of 35 dB. Of the many other claimed health effects of wind turbine noise exposure reported in the literature, however, no conclusive evidence could be found.
Future studies should focus on investigations aimed at objectively demonstrating whether or not measureable health-related outcomes can be proven to fluctuate depending on exposure to wind turbines
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