Objectives: To evaluate the prevalence of perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise among people living near the turbines, and to study relations between noise and perception/annoyance, with focus on differences between living environments.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out in seven areas in Sweden across dissimilar terrain and different degrees of urbanisation. A postal questionnaire regarding living conditions including response to wind turbine noise was completed by 754 subjects. Outdoor A-weighted sound pressure levels (SPLs) were calculated for each respondent. Perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise in relation to SPLs was analysed with regard to dissimilarities between the areas.
Results: The odds of perceiving wind turbine noise increased with increasing SPL (OR 1.3; 95% CI 1.25 to 1.40). The odds of being annoyed by wind turbine noise also increased with increasing SPLs (OR 1.1; 95% CI 1.01 to 1.25). Perception and annoyance were associated with terrain and urbanisation: (1) a rural area increased the risk of perception and annoyance in comparison with a suburban area; and (2) in a rural setting, complex ground (hilly or rocky terrain) increased the risk compared with flat ground. Annoyance was associated with both objective and subjective factors of wind turbine visibility, and was further associated with lowered sleep quality and negative emotions.
Conclusion: There is a need to take the unique environment into account when planning a new wind farm so that adverse health effects are avoided. The influence of area-related factors should also be considered in future community noise research.
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Published Online First 1 March 2007
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