Effects of industrial wind turbine noise on sleep and health
Michael A. Nissenbaum, Jeffery J. Aramini1, Christopher D. Hanning2 Northern Maine Medical Center, Fort Kent, Maine, USA, 1Intelligent Health Solutions, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, 2University Hospitals of
Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK
Industrial wind turbines (IWTs) are a new source of noise in previously quiet rural environments. Environmental noise is a public health concern, of which sleep disruption is a major factor. To compare sleep and general health outcomes between participants living close to IWTs and those living further away from them, participants living between 375 and 1400 m (n = 38) and 3.3 and 6.6 km (n = 41) from IWTs were enrolled in a stratified cross-sectional study involving two rural sites. Validated questionnaires were used to collect information on sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index — PSQI), daytime sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Score — ESS), and general health (SF36v2), together with psychiatric disorders, attitude, and demographics. Descriptive and multivariate analyses were performed to investigate the effect of the main exposure variable of interest (distance to the nearest IWT) on various health outcome measures. Participants living within 1.4 km of an IWT had worse sleep, were sleepier during the day, and had worse SF36 Mental Component Scores compared to those living further than 1.4 km away. Significant dose-response relationships between PSQI, ESS, SF36 Mental Component Score, and log-distance to the nearest IWT were identified after controlling for gender, age, and household clustering. The adverse event reports of sleep disturbance and ill health by those living close to IWTs are supported.
Environmental noise is emerging as one of the major public health concerns of the twenty-first century. The drive to ‘renewable’, low-carbon energy sources, has resulted in Industrial Wind Turbines (IWTs) being sited closer to homes in traditionally quiet rural areas to reduce transmission losses and costs. Increasing numbers of complaints about sleep disturbance and adverse health effects have been documented,[2-4] while industry and government reviews have argued that the effects are trivial and that current guidance is adequate to protect the residents.[5,6] We undertook an epidemiological study to investigate the relationship between the reported adverse health effects and IWTs among residents of two rural communities.
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