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anses

French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

Noise pollution

The impact of noise on health

Updated on 04/04/2017

Keywords : Noise, Noise pollution

Opinion surveys show that the French population attaches special and increasing importance to the right to a noise-free environment. However, the population still does not consider the effects of noise on health to be a major concern. Noise is seen more as a disturbance, a nuisance, or even as environmental pollution, rather than a real risk for health. It does not create the same concerns as other environmental risks and nuisance because it has no effect on the fundamental components of our living space like air and water, and most importantly, it is rare for noise to have immediate perceptible harmful effects on health. This article describes ANSES activities in this area.

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Health effects of noise from wind turbines

Updated on 04/04/2017

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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