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Human response to wind turbine noise: perception, annoyance and moderating factors
Halmstad University, School of Business and Engineering (SET), Biological and Environmental Systems (BLESS).
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Aims: The aims of this thesis were to describe and gain an understanding of how people who live in the vicinity of wind turbines are affected by wind turbine noise, and how individual, situational and visual factors, as well as sound properties, moderate the response.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out in a flat, mainly rural area in Sweden, with the objective to estimate the prevalence of noise annoyance and to examine the dose-response relationship between A-weighted sound pressure levels (SPLs) and perception of and annoyance with wind turbine noise. Subjective responses were obtained through a questionnaire (n = 513; response rate: 68%) and outdoor, A-weighted SPLs were calculated for each respondent. To gain a deeper understanding of the observed noise annoyance, 15 people living in an area were interviewed using open-ended questions. The interviews were analysed using the comparative method of Grounded Theory (GT). An additional cross-sectional study, mainly exploring the influence of individual and situational factors, was carried out in seven areas in Sweden that differed with regard to terrain (flat or complex) and degree of urbanization (n = 765; response rate: 58%). To further explore the impact of visual factors, data from the two cross-sectional studies were tested with structural equation modelling. A proposed model of the influence of visual attitude on noise annoyance, also comprising the influence of noise level and general attitude, was tested among respondents who could see wind turbines versus respondents who could not see wind turbines from their dwelling, and respondents living in flat versus complex terrain.

Results: Dose-response relationships were found both for perception of noise and for noise annoyance in relation to A-weighted SPLs. The risk of annoyance was enhanced among respondents who could see at least one turbine from their dwelling and among those living in a rural in comparison with a suburban area. Noise from wind turbines was appraised as an intrusion of privacy among people who expected quiet and peace in their living environment. Negative experiences that led to feelings of inferiority added to the distress. Sound characteristics describing the amplitude modulated aerodynamic sound were appraised as the most annoying (swishing, whistling and pulsating/throbbing). Wind turbines were judged as environmentally friendly, efficient and necessary, but also as ugly and unnatural. Being negative towards the visual impact of the wind turbines on the landscape scenery, rather than towards wind turbines as such, was strongly associated with annoyance. Self-reported health impairment was not correlated to SPL, while decreased well-being was associated with noise annoyance. Indications of possible hindrance to psycho-physiological restoration were observed.

Conclusions: Wind turbine noise is easily perceived and is annoying even at low A-weighted SPLs. This could be due to perceived incongruence between the characteristics of wind turbine noise and the background sound. Wind turbines are furthermore prominent objects whose rotational movement attracts the eye. Multimodal sensory effects or negative aesthetic response could enhance the risk of noise annoyance. Adverse reactions could possibly lead to stress-related symptoms due to prolonged physiological arousal and hindrance to psychophysiological restoration. The observed differences in prevalence of noise annoyance between living environments make it necessary to assess separate dose-response relationships for different types of landscapes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Institute of Medicine, The Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University , 2007. , p. 86
Keywords [en]
Noise, Environmental exposure, Wind, Audio-visual interaction, Low-level noise exposure
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-1545Local ID: 2082/1925ISBN: 978-91-628-7149-9 OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-1545DiVA, id: diva2:238763
Public defence
2007-06-12, sal 2118, Hus 2, Sahlgrenska akademin, Arvid Wallgrens Backe, Göteborg, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Available from: 2008-06-17 Created: 2008-06-17 Last updated: 2018-03-23Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise: a dose–response relationship
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perception and annoyance due to wind turbine noise: a dose–response relationship
2004 (English)In: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, ISSN 0001-4966, E-ISSN 1520-8524, Vol. 116, no 6, p. 3460-3470Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Installed global wind power increased by 26% during 2003, with U.S and Europe accounting for 90% of the cumulative capacity. Little is known about wind turbines' impact on people living in their vicinity. The aims of this study were to evaluate the prevalence of annoyance due to wind turbine noise and to study dose–response relationships. Interrelationships between noise annoyance and sound characteristics, as well as the influence of subjective variables such as attitude and noise sensitivity, were also assessed. A cross-sectional study was performed in Sweden in 2000. Responses were obtained through questionnaires (n = 351; response rate 68.4%), and doses were calculated as A-weighted sound pressure levels for each respondent. A statistically significant dose–response relationship was found, showing higher proportion of people reporting perception and annoyance than expected from the present dose–response relationships for transportation noise. The unexpected high proportion of annoyance could be due to visual interference, influencing noise annoyance, as well as the presence of intrusive sound characteristics. The respondents' attitude to the visual impact of wind turbines on the landscape scenery was found to influence noise annoyance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Acoustical Society of America (ASA), 2004
Keywords
hearing, noise pollution, wind turbines, transportation, acoustic intensity, visual perception
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-312 (URN)10.1121/1.1815091 (DOI)000225914400023 ()15658697 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-11144268094 (Scopus ID)2082/614 (Local ID)2082/614 (Archive number)2082/614 (OAI)
Available from: 2006-12-13 Created: 2006-12-13 Last updated: 2018-03-23Bibliographically approved
2. Living in the Vicinity of Wind Turbines - A Grounded Theory Study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Living in the Vicinity of Wind Turbines - A Grounded Theory Study
2007 (English)In: Qualitative Research in Psychology, ISSN 1478-0895, Vol. 4, no 1-2, p. 49-63Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Little is known of wind turbines' impact on people living in their vicinity. The aim of this study was to gain a deeper understanding of how people perceive and are affected by wind turbines in their living environment. In-depth interviews with 15 informants, strategically chosen to form a heterogeneous group, were analyzed using the constant comparative method of grounded theory. The informants were to different extents affected by the swishing noise, flickering light, and constant movement of the turbines' rotor blades. Some informants perceived the exposures as outside their territory while others perceived them as intrusion into privacy; a divergence partly determined by the informants' personal values about the living environment. The feeling of intrusion was associated with feeling a lack of control, subjected to injustice, a lack of influence, and not being believed. Informants used various coping strategies, such as rebuilding their houses or complaining, but mainly tried to ignore exposures from the wind turbines. The findings can help us to better understand the severe reactions wind turbines sometimes evoke and contribute to the knowledge base used when planning for new wind farms.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Philadelphia, PA: Routledge, 2007
Keywords
Audio-visual interaction, Coping, Environmental stressors, Grounded theory, Home, Human response, Multimodal perception, Noise annoyance, Shadows, Territoriality, Sound, Wind power
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-1494 (URN)10.1030/14780880701473409 (DOI)2-s2.0-55949126090 (Scopus ID)2082/1874 (Local ID)2082/1874 (Archive number)2082/1874 (OAI)
Available from: 2008-06-05 Created: 2008-06-05 Last updated: 2018-03-23Bibliographically approved
3. Wind turbine noise, annoyance and self-reported health and well-being in different living environments
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Wind turbine noise, annoyance and self-reported health and well-being in different living environments
2007 (English)In: Occupational and Environmental Medicine, ISSN 1351-0711, E-ISSN 1470-7926, Vol. 64, no 7, p. 480-486Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

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.

CONCLUSIONS: 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.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: BMJ Publishing Group Ltd., 2007
Keywords
Noise, Wind turbine, Health and well-being, Environmental exposure
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-1546 (URN)10.1136/oem.2006.031039 (DOI)000247402600010 ()17332136 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-34347375557 (Scopus ID)2082/1926 (Local ID)2082/1926 (Archive number)2082/1926 (OAI)
Available from: 2008-06-17 Created: 2008-06-17 Last updated: 2018-03-23Bibliographically approved
4. The impact of visual factors on noise annoyance among people living in the vicinity of wind turbines
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The impact of visual factors on noise annoyance among people living in the vicinity of wind turbines
2008 (English)In: Journal of Environmental Psychology, ISSN 0272-4944, E-ISSN 1522-9610, Vol. 28, no 4, p. 379-389Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Wind turbines are highly visible objects and the response to wind turbine noise is possibly influenced by visual factors. In this study, visibility of the noise source, visual attitude and vertical visual angle (VVA) in different landscapes were explored. Data from two cross-sectional field studies carried out among people living near wind turbines (n=1095) were used for structural equation modelling. A proposed model of the influence of visual attitude on noise annoyance, also comprising the influence of noise level and general attitude, was tested among respondents who could see vs. respondents who could not see wind turbines from their homes, living in flat vs. hilly/rocky terrain, and living in built-up vs. rural areas. Visual attitude towards the noise source was associated with noise annoyance to different degrees in different situations. A negative visual attitude, more than multi-modal effects between auditory and visual stimulation, enhanced the risk for noise annoyance and possibly also prevented psychophysiological restoration possibilities. Aesthetic evaluations of the noise source should be taken into account when exploring response to environmental noise.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Academic Press, 2008
Keywords
Noise, Wind turbine, Visual factors
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-1554 (URN)10.1016/j.jenvp.2008.02.009 (DOI)000261503300008 ()2-s2.0-55949124475 (Scopus ID)2082/1934 (Local ID)2082/1934 (Archive number)2082/1934 (OAI)
Available from: 2008-06-17 Created: 2008-06-17 Last updated: 2018-03-23Bibliographically approved

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