In a peer-reviewed scientific study, American and British scientists have come to the conclusion that wind farm noises cause significant damage to people’s sleep and mental health.
The scientists looked into two groups of residents in Maine, United States with one variable: one group lives within a mile of a wind farm and another that did not. The researchers found that both groups of subjects were demographically and socially similar, yet they different in quality of sleep. Quality of sleep was measured using two standard scientific scales—the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (which measures the quality of night-time sleep) and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (which measures how sleepy people feel when they are awake).
“Participants living near industrial wind turbines had worse sleep, as evidenced by significantly greater mean PSQI and ESS scores,” wrote the researchers, as reported by The Telegraph. “There were clear and significant dose-response relationships, with the effect diminishing with increasing log-distance from turbines.”
What’s more, the researchers also compared “mental component scores” and found a significant correlation between wind turbines and poorer mental health—most likely a side effect of poor sleep quality. Not convinced? Consider this: More than a quarter of the subjects living near turbines had been medically diagnosed with depression or anxiety after the wind farm began and none of the control subjects not living near turbines reported such problems. Additionally, more than a quarter of residents living near the wind farm reported having been prescribed sleeping pills will less than a tenth of those living away from the farms had been prescribed sleeping pills.
The findings of this study, published in the journal Noise and Health, are significant as they support claims by residents living near turbines that the sound from the rotating turbine blades disrupts their sleeps and will be used by those opposed to wind power to prevent turbines from being built near residential areas.
The researchers—Michael Nissenbaum, Jeffery Aramini and Chris Hanning—note that this is the first peer-reviewed study to show a link between wind farms and “important clinical indicators of health, including sleep quality, daytime sleepiness and mental health”.