Wind Turbines – A Different Breed of Noise?

This article appeared in Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 122, No 1, January 2014. It talks, initially, about a case where a family built a house just under 5,000 metres from a wind turbine. One of the family members began to experience headaches, dizziness, insomnia and a ringing in her ears. Two years later, the family was forced to leave the house because of the environmental noise identified as coming from the wind turbine.

The article states, “..Turbine noise is often deemed more annoying than transportation noise because of its high variability in both level and quality. Unlike vehicle traffic, which tends to get quieter at night, turbines can sound louder at night. And they generate lower frequencies of sound, which tend to be judged as more annoying than higher frequencies and are more likely to travel through walls and windows…”

The article notes that, as wind turbines are a relatively recent innovation, the body of peer reviewed research addressing the wind turbine noise issue is “…sparse and particularly unsettled…”.

This does highlight the fact that alternative options in managing and minimising environmental impacts are not devoid of their own impacts which need to be considered when looking at the wider picture.