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Noise and health

Opinion surveys show that the French place increasing value on the right to peace and quiet in daily life. However, the consequences of noise pollution on health are not always a main concern.  Noise is more readily perceived as an inconvenience, a nuisance, or as environmental pollution than as a real risk to health. In fact, noise does not elicit the same level of concern as the other environmental nuisances or risks because it does not negatively affect the basic elements of life - air and water - and especially because there are rarely any immediate negative effects of noise on health. See the Agency’s work in this area.

Health effects of noise from wind turbines

21/03/2013

Keywords : Noise, Noise pollution, Infrasound

ANSES has undertaken several scientific expert appraisals on the potential health impacts of noise from wind turbines. In 2006, the Agency received a first formal request from the Ministries of Health and the Environment to conduct a critical analysis of the report published by the French National Academy of Medicine recommending that the most powerful wind turbines (of greater power than 2.5 Megawatts) be placed no nearer than 1,500 metres from residential areas due to the noise pollution generated by these structures. In the conclusions of its first expert appraisal report published in 2008, ANSES stressed the need to study appropriate distances for wind turbines on a case-by-case basis, particularly with modelling methods taking local configurations into account. Following various complaints from residents living near wind turbines, the Ministries of Health and the Environment submitted another request to the Agency in 2013 in order to assess the potential health effects of infrasounds and low-frequency sounds emitted by wind farms. To date, while assumptions on the mechanisms of health effects still remain to be explored, a review of the available experimental and epidemiological data does not give adequate scientific arguments indicative of health effects for local residents specifically related to their exposure to inaudible sound emissions from wind turbines (infrasounds in particular). The current state of knowledge therefore provides no justification for extending the scope of health impact studies on noise from wind farms to issues other than those related to audible noise, for which the effects are confirmed, complex and documented.

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