Concept: Éolienne Bollée
With often florid allegations about health problems arising from wind turbine exposure now widespread, nocebo effects potentially confound any future investigation of turbine health impact. Historical audits of health complaints are therefore important. We test 4 hypotheses relevant to psychogenic explanations of the variable timing and distribution of health and noise complaints about wind farms in Australia.
Objective: The development of new wind farms in many parts of the world has been thwarted by public concern that subaudible sound (infrasound) generated by wind turbines causes adverse health effects. Although the scientific evidence does not support a direct pathophysiological link between infrasound and health complaints, there is a body of lay information suggesting a link between infrasound exposure and health effects. This study tested the potential for such information to create symptom expectations, thereby providing a possible pathway for symptom reporting. Method: A sham-controlled double-blind provocation study, in which participants were exposed to 10 min of infrasound and 10 min of sham infrasound, was conducted. Fifty-four participants were randomized to high- or low-expectancy groups and presented audiovisual information, integrating material from the Internet, designed to invoke either high or low expectations that exposure to infrasound causes specified symptoms. Results: High-expectancy participants reported significant increases, from preexposure assessment, in the number and intensity of symptoms experienced during exposure to both infrasound and sham infrasound. There were no symptomatic changes in the low-expectancy group. Conclusions: Healthy volunteers, when given information about the expected physiological effect of infrasound, reported symptoms that aligned with that information, during exposure to both infrasound and sham infrasound. Symptom expectations were created by viewing information readily available on the Internet, indicating the potential for symptom expectations to be created outside of the laboratory, in real world settings. Results suggest psychological expectations could explain the link between wind turbine exposure and health complaints. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
Area-wide measurements of low frequency wind turbine noise were conducted in residential areas adjacent to two different wind turbine facilities in Southern California. The residential measurement location distances ranged from 615 m to 9 km from wind turbines. Additional measurements were also conducted at distances as close as 125 m from the wind turbines. To obtain the residential measurement data, simultaneous digital recordings were made inside and outside residences using microphones designed to achieve a linear response down to 0.07 Hz. The outdoor measurements were conducted with a ground board and two windscreens. The recorded data at residences were analyzed using a cross-spectral technique to minimize the effects of wind acting on the microphone. The data clearly show the presence of infrasound at the blade passage frequency of the wind turbines as well as at the associated harmonics. The primary range of interest is frequencies between 0 and 10 Hz. The residential data in some instances indicate higher levels of infrasound indoors compared to outdoors, indicating a potential amplification of very low frequency sound energy by the residential structure. Representative infrasound data for both facilities are presented and discussed.
Wind energy has developed rapidly over the last two decades to become one of the most promising and economically viable sources of renewable energy. Although wind energy is claimed to provide clean renewable energy without any emissions during operation, but it is only one side of the coin. The blades, one of the most important components in the wind turbines, made with composite, are currently regarded as unrecyclable. With the first wave of early commercial wind turbine installations now approaching their end of life, the problem of blade disposal is just beginning to emerge as a significant factor for the future. This paper is aimed at discovering the magnitude of the wind turbine blade waste problem, looking not only at disposal but at all stages of a blade’s lifecycle. The first stage of the research, the subject of this paper, is to accurately estimate present and future wind turbine blade waste inventory using the most recent and most accurate data available. The result will provide a solid reference point to help the industry and policy makers to understand the size of potential environmental problem and to help to manage it better. This study starts by estimating the annual blade material usage with wind energy installed capacity and average blade weight. The effect of other waste contributing factors in the full lifecycle of wind turbine blades is then included, using industrial data from the manufacturing, testing and in-service stages. The research indicates that there will be 43 million tonnes of blade waste worldwide by 2050 with China possessing 40% of the waste, Europe 25%, the United States 16% and the rest of the world 19%.
The Power of Positive and Negative Expectations to Influence Reported Symptoms and Mood During Exposure to Wind Farm Sound
- Health psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association
- Published almost 7 years ago
Objective: Wind farm developments have been hampered by claims that sound from wind turbines causes symptoms and negative health reports in nearby residents. As scientific reviews have failed to identify a plausible link between wind turbine sound and health effects, psychological expectations have been proposed as an explanation for health complaints. Building on recent work showing negative expectations can create symptoms from wind turbines, we investigated whether positive expectations can produce the opposite effect, in terms of a reduction in symptoms and improvements in reported health. Method: 60 participants were randomized to either positive or negative expectation groups and subsequently exposed to audible wind farm sound and infrasound. Prior to exposure, negative expectation participants watched a DVD incorporating TV footage about health effects said to be caused by infrasound produced by wind turbines. In contrast, positive expectation participants viewed a DVD that outlined the possible therapeutic effects of infrasound exposure. Results: During exposure to audible windfarm sound and infrasound, symptoms and mood were strongly influenced by the type of expectations. Negative expectation participants experienced a significant increase in symptoms and a significant deterioration in mood, while positive expectation participants reported a significant decrease in symptoms and a significant improvement in mood. Conclusion: The study demonstrates that expectations can influence symptom and mood reports in both positive and negative directions. The results suggest that if expectations about infrasound are framed in more neutral or benign ways, then it is likely reports of symptoms or negative effects could be nullified. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
Noise generated by wind turbines has been reported to affect sleep and quality of life (QOL), but the relationship is unclear. Our objective was to explore the association between wind turbine noise, sleep disturbance and quality of life, using data from published observational studies. We searched Medline, Embase, Global Health and Google Scholar databases. No language restrictions were imposed. Hand searches of bibliography of retrieved full texts were also conducted. The reporting quality of included studies was assessed using the STROBE guidelines. Two reviewers independently determined the eligibility of studies, assessed the quality of included studies, and extracted the data. We included eight studies with a total of 2433 participants. All studies were cross-sectional, and the overall reporting quality was moderate. Meta-analysis of six studies (n=2364) revealed that the odds of being annoyed is significantly increased by wind turbine noise (OR: 4.08; 95% CI: 2.37 to 7.04; p<0.00001). The odds of sleep disturbance was also significantly increased with greater exposure to wind turbine noise (OR: 2.94; 95% CI: 1.98 to 4.37; p<0.00001). Four studies reported that wind turbine noise significantly interfered with QOL. Further, visual perception of wind turbine generators was associated with greater frequency of reported negative health effects. In conclusion, there is some evidence that exposure to wind turbine noise is associated with increased odds of annoyance and sleep problems. Individual attitudes could influence the type of response to noise from wind turbines. Experimental and observational studies investigating the relationship between wind turbine noise and health are warranted.
Unsustainable Wind Turbine Blade Disposal Practices in the United States: A Case for Policy Intervention and Technological Innovation
- New solutions : a journal of environmental and occupational health policy : NS
- Published about 4 years ago
Finding ways to manage the waste from the expected high number of wind turbine blades in need of disposal is crucial to harvest wind energy in a truly sustainable manner. Landfilling is the most cost-effective disposal method in the United States, but it imposes significant environmental impacts. Thermal, mechanical, and chemical processes allow for some energy and/or material recovery, but they also carry potential negative externalities. This article explores the main economic and environmental issues with various wind turbine blade disposal methods. We argue for the necessity of policy intervention that encourages industry to develop better technologies to make wind turbine blade disposal sustainable, both environmentally and economically. We present some of the technological initiatives being researched, such as the use of bio-derived resins and thermoplastic composites in the manufacturing process of the blades.
The association of wind turbine noise (WTN) with sleep and physical/mental health has not been fully investigated. To investigate the relationship of WTN with the prevalence of self-reported symptoms of sleep and health problems, a socioacoustic survey of 1079 adult residents was conducted throughout Japan (2010-2012): 747 in 34 areas surrounding wind turbine plants and 332 in 16 control areas. During face-to-face interviews, the respondents were not informed of the purpose of the survey. Questions on symptoms such as sleeplessness and physical/mental complaints were asked without specifying reasons. Insomnia was defined as having one or any combination of the following that occurs three or more times a week and bothers a respondent: Difficulty initiating sleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, premature morning awakening, and feeling of light overnight sleep. Poor health was defined as having high scores for health complaints, as determined using the Total Health Index, exceeding the criteria proposed by the authors of the index. The noise descriptor for WTN was LAeq,n outdoor, estimated from the results of actual measurement at some locations in each site. Multiple logistic analysis was applied to the LAeq,n and insomnia or poor health. The odds ratio (OR) of insomnia was significantly higher when the noise exposure level exceeded 40 dB, whereas the self-reported sensitivity to noise and visual annoyance with wind turbines were also independently associated with insomnia. OR of poor health was not significant for noise exposure, but significant for noise sensitivity and visual annoyance. The above two moderators appear to indicate the features of respondents who are sensitive to stimuli or changes in their homeostasis.
Living within the vicinity of wind turbines may have adverse impacts on health measures associated with quality of life (QOL). There are few studies in this area and inconsistent findings preclude definitive conclusions regarding the impact that exposure to wind turbine noise (WTN) may have on QOL. In the current study (officially titled the Community Noise and Health Study or CNHS), the World Health Organization QOL-BREF (WHOQOL-BREF) questionnaire provided an evaluation of QOL in relation to WTN levels among randomly selected participants aged 18-79 (606 males, 632 females) living between 0.25 and 11.22km from wind turbines (response rate 78.9%). In the multiple regression analyses, WTN levels were not found to be related to scores on the Physical, Psychological, Social or Environment domains, or to rated QOL and Satisfaction with Health questions. However, some wind turbine-related variables were associated with scores on the WHOQOL-BREF, irrespective of WTN levels. Hearing wind turbines for less than one year (compared to not at all and greater than one year) was associated with improved (i.e. higher) scores on the Psychological domain (p=0.0108). Lower scores on both the Physical and Environment domains (p=0.0218 and p=0.0372, respectively), were observed among participants reporting high visual annoyance toward wind turbines. Personal benefit from having wind turbines in the area was related to higher scores on the Physical domain (p=0.0417). Other variables significantly related to one or more domains, included sex, age, marital status, employment, education, income, alcohol consumption, smoking status, chronic diseases and sleep disorders. Collectively, results do not support an association between exposure to WTN up to 46dBA and QOL assessed using the WHOQOL-BREF questionnaire.
How the factoid of wind turbines causing ‘vibroacoustic disease’ came to be ‘irrefutably demonstrated’
- Australian and New Zealand journal of public health
- Published over 7 years ago
Objective : In recent years, claims have proliferated in cyberspace that wind turbines cause a large variety of symptoms and diseases. One of these, “vibroacoustic disease” (VAD) is frequently mentioned. The aim of this study is to examine the quality of the evidence on how VAD came to be associated with wind turbine exposure by wind farm opponents. Methods: Searches of the web (Google advanced) and major research databases for papers on VAD and wind turbines. Self-citation analysis of research papers on VAD. Results: Google returned 24,700 hits for VAD and wind turbines. Thirty-five research papers on VAD were found, none reporting any association between VAD and wind turbines. Of the 35 papers, 34 had a first author from a single Portuguese research group. Seventy-four per cent of citations to these papers were self-citations by the group. Median self-citation rates in science are around 7%. Two unpublished case reports presented at conferences were found asserting that VAD was “irrefutably demonstrated” to be caused by wind turbines. The quality of these reports was abject. Conclusions: VAD has received virtually no scientific recognition beyond the group who coined and promoted the concept. There is no evidence of even rudimentary quality that vibroacoustic disease is associated with or caused by wind turbines. Implications: The claim that wind turbines cause VAD is a factoid that has gone ‘viral’ in cyberspace and may be contributing to nocebo effects among those living near turbines.