Monday, January 31, 2011

Noise from Wind Turbines and Health Impacts

Icon of Wind TurbinesImage via WikipediaHealth effects of turbines? We already know (Brantford Expositor, Jan. 13, 2011)

Today’s review article focuses on health impacts on people exposed to sound from wind turbines, citing regulations in Ontario, Canada and potential impacts from other countries with wind farm experience and calls for bylaws to limit the use of wind turbines near municipalities.

Key Quotes:

“The Province of Ontario has noise restrictions..'Sound Levels for Stationary Sources' NPC-232… no installation shall exceed a maximum noise level of 40 decibels during the evening and 45 during the day.”

“how disruptive is noise of 40-45 decibels from an industrial complex (such as the wind farm) when it is located in a natural environment with an ambient noise level of 25- 30 decibels (or 15-20 decibels less)?”

“science informs us that when the volume of any noise is increased by three decibels that noise becomes noticeable. Increases of five decibels are loud enough to be considered annoying. Increases of 10 decibels represent a doubling of volume to the human ear. Therefore, 40 decibels is twice as loud as 30 decibels to humans”

“health implications, citing increased headaches, possible nausea and sleep deprivation as the most common symptoms. Prolonged exposure increases stress and the risk of depression, anxiety and cardiovascular disease”

“the Vestas wind turbines destined for Silcote Corners have a sound power rating between 95 decibels and 103 decibels per turbine, depending on wind velocity. When they are clustered together there is an incremental increase in the sound power as each turbine is added.. to meet NPC-232 requirements wind turbines are "set back" 550 metres from a receptor…In Germany, if a wind farm is built in an environment characterized by a 35 decibel ambient noise level, the setback from any receptor is 1.5 km.”

“every organ in the human body can resonate or vibrate from exposure to low frequency noise. As examples; low frequency noise of 50 Herz stimulates vibration in the chest cavity; at 30 Hz abdominal organs can do the same; at 17 Hz vision can be blurred due to vibration of optic nerves”

“The Japanese, at the end of 2009, curtailed installations of wind farms and initiated a four-year epidemiological study on people living near turbines to understand the issue of cell damage in the human body due to low frequency noise exposure”

“We need municipal politicians to use the knowledge we have, take the next steps beyond a moratorium and construct bylaws to get the sources of environmental noise away from inhabitants”
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