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Wind Farm Noise Study

 

The expansion of wind farm facilities in Australia has been associated with widespread community complaints regarding noise, sleep disturbance and adverse health effects. The Wind Farm Noise Study sets out to determine whether or not sleep disturbances may arise from wind farm noise. The noise used in our studies include sounds with frequencies that can be heard and not heard.

Led by Flinders University, this research involves a range of experts from a number of Australian institutions and has undergone a rigorous ethics approval process. It is funded by a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (Number APP1113571).

For the first time, researchers will use direct sleep recordings of brain waves (electroencephalographic, EEG) and cardiovascular measurements in a laboratory setting to assess the impact of different noises. The measures will evaluate any possible sleep disruption and/or physiological activation in response to wind farm noise compared to other noise disturbances (particularly traffic) during sleep.

This study has three parts that you could potentially be involved with:

  • A survey of people exposed to windfarm or traffic noise;
  • A in-home study of sleep and noise in people affected by noise; and
  • A laboratory study at the Flinders University Sleep Laboratory to investigate noise effects on sleep in a controlled sleep and noise environment.

A Community Liaison Group will also be established to develop an avenue for community involvement during the three phases of the project.

Universal Trial Number (UTN): U1111-1191-1014

 

Register your interest

 

Good sleep is essential for normal daytime functioning and health. It is well known that sleep disorders and sensory disturbances, such as traffic noise, reduce sleep quality, which may impact on health.

Therefore it is important to determine whether wind farm noises disturb sleep.

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Wind farm noise exposure, including audible and potentially inaudible low frequency components of sound (infrasound), has the potential to adversely affect sleep, health and well-being through two main plausible and inter-related mechanisms:

  • chronic sleep fragmentation from frequent physiological activation responses to sensory disturbances in sleep; and
  • chronic insomnia - which could potentially develop more gradually over time in sensitised individuals.

However, as outlined in the NHMRC rapid review of the evidence, there is a lack of data from studies using objective measures of sleep and sound. These data are now needed to definitively establish if and how wind farm noise disrupts sleep compared to other noise disturbances.

This project will, for the first time, use direct electroencephalographic (EEG) and cardiovascular measurements to systematically evaluate the sleep disruption and physiological activation response characteristics of wind farm noise during sleep.

Groups of individuals with and without prior wind farm noise exposure will be studied in carefully controlled laboratory conditions using pre-recorded and accurately-reproduced wind-farm noise, including and excluding low frequency components and infrasound.

Dose-response characteristics will also be evaluated against more ubiquitous traffic noise in sleep. Potential predictors of sleep disturbance responses such as sensory acuity, annoyance and physiological activation response to noise presented during wakefulness will also be evaluated.

 

  • Associate Professor Peter Catcheside
  • Dr Branko Zajamsek
  • Dr Gorica Micic
  • Emeritus Professor Leon Lack
  • Dr Kristy Hansen
  • Associate Professor Con Doolan
  • Emeritus Professor Colin Hansen
  • Dr Andrew Vakulin
  • Dr Nicole Lovato
  • Professor Dorothy Bruck
  • Dr Ching Li Chai-Coetzer
  • Dr Jeremy Mercer