Noise Radiation from Wind Turbines Installed Near Homes: Effects on Health
by Barbara J. Frey and Peter J. Hadden
Wind turbines are large industrial structures that create obtrusive environmental noise pollution when built too close to dwellings. This annotated review of evidence and research by experts considers the impact of industrial-scale wind turbines suffered by those living nearby. First, the paper includes the comments by some of the families affected by wind turbines, as well as coverage in news media internationally. The experiences described put a human face to the science of acoustics.
Second, the paper reviews research articles within the field of acoustics concerning the acoustic properties of wind turbines and noise. The acoustic characteristics of wind turbines are complex and in combination produce acoustic radiation. Next, the paper reviews the health effects that may result from the acoustic radiation caused by wind turbines, as well as the health effects from noise, because the symptoms parallel one another. Primarily, the consequent health response includes sleep deprivation and the problems that ensue as a result. In addition, this paper reviews articles that report research about the body's response not only to the audible noise, but also to the inaudible components of noise that adversely affect the body's physiology. Research points to a causal link between unwanted sound and sleep deprivation and stress, i.e., whole body physiologic responses.
These injuries are considered in the context of Human Rights, where it is contended that the environmental noise pollution destroys a person's effective enjoyment of right to respect for home and private life, a violation of Article 8 of the European Court of Human Rights Act. Furthermore, the paper considers the consequent devaluation of a dwelling as a measure of part of the damage that arises when wind turbines are sited too close to a dwelling, causing acoustic radiation and consequent adverse health responses.
The review concludes that a safe buffer zone of at least 2km should exist between family dwellings and industrial wind turbines of up to 2MW installed capacity, with greater separation for a wind turbine greater than 2MW installed capacity.