Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Wind turbine noise

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 08 March 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e1527

Rapid Response:

Re: Wind turbine noise

While Simon Chapman does an excellent job of rebutting the primary arguments of this article, if we were to take it at face value from a public health policy, what would suggested interventions be?

As the authors assert that this is a matter of annoying noise causing sleep disturbance, then surely they will be interested in low-cost, effective noise annoyance reduction measures.

For example, a white noise generator can be purchase for less than $30USD. This provides masking noise which would eliminate any impact from nearby wind turbines.

Similarly, comfortable foam earplugs would also be reasonable interventions. These can be purchased in bulk for cents per ear plug.

There are many stress reduction and annoyance distraction techniques available with the click of a button on the internet. Most of these can be studied and practiced free of charge by anyone interested in dealing with ultimately trivial annoyances that they are over-focussing upon.

Finally, closing windows and installing quilted blinds would not only significantly decrease noise, but would also decrease light, improving sleep as well.

The quilted blinds are the only expensive alternative in the above interventions.

All of these techniques are in use today in households around the world to deal with traffic noise, sirens, airplane noise, noisy neighbours, nearby industrial works, streetcars and dawn tractor startups. Urban and rural dwellers depend on them to ensure a comfortable and uninterrupted sleep.

By comparison, increasing setbacks of wind turbines by hundreds of meters, which their numbers suggest, would cause a significant reduction in possible sites for this clean and economical form of energy, cause an increase in distant wind turbines with associated higher costs, causing an overall increase of electricity costs and secondary health impacts to all consumers.

That the authors' only suggested intervention is greater setbacks for wind turbines betrays their agenda. Their solution is vastly out of proportion to the problem.

Competing interests: No competing interests

12 April 2012
Mike Barnard
1603-168 King St East, Toronto, On, M5A 4S4