Understanding the Evidence: Wind Turbine Noise
The Expert Panel on Wind Turbine Noise and Human Health
Demand for renewable energy, including wind power, is expected to grow in Canada and around the world. The wind sector has expanded rapidly since the 1990s, and Canada is now the fifth-largest global market for the installation of wind turbines. However, this new source of environmental sound has raised public concerns about potential health effects on nearby residents.
Determining whether wind turbine noise causes adverse health effects is an important issue. In response to public concern, Health Canada asked the Council of Canadian Academies to conduct an in-depth expert panel assessment. The Panel’s report presents findings on the acoustic characteristics of wind turbine noise, evidence on causal relationships between exposure to wind turbine noise and adverse health effects, knowledge gaps and further research, and promising practices to reduce adverse community response. The resulting report is evidence-based and does not espouse recommendations. Its purpose, rather, is to assess the scientific evidence on the question of wind turbine noise and human health in order to provide a foundation of knowledge to support governments, policy makers, communities, and the industry.
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Is there evidence to support a causal association between exposure to wind turbine noise and the development of adverse health effects?
The Panel used a comprehensive approach to identify and review relevant research. They identified 32 symptoms and health outcomes that have been attributed to exposure to wind turbine noise by members of the general public (e.g., annoyance, sleep disturbance, stress, irregular heartbeat, muscle pain etc.). The Panel then reviewed the empirical research for those symptoms and selected 38 key papers that constituted the core evidence base for their assessment.