Noise from wind turbines linked to increased use of sleeping pills, Danish study finds

Noise from wind turbines linked to increased use of sleeping pills, Danish study finds
Photo: Bax Lindhardt/Ritzau Scanpix
A Danish study has found that people over 65 years of age are more likely to take certain types of medicine if they live close to wind turbines.

People over the age of 65 who live close enough to wind turbines to hear a significant level of noise are more likely to be use prescriptions for anti-depressive or sleeping medication, the research found.

The study was conducted by the Danish Cancer Society (Kræftens Bekæmpelse) and was financed by three government ministries – the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Environment and Food and the Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate.

Six different conclusions relating to the effects of wind turbines on health were made as a result of the research.

One of those conclusions is a clear link between medicine use and noise levels from wind turbines, said Aslak Harbo Poulsen, a researcher with the Danish Cancer Society.

“Our studies have found that there is, certainly amongst older people, a link between wind turbine noise that can be measured outdoors and the likelihood of using a prescription for medicine to treat depression or difficulty sleeping,” Poulsen said.

Participants in the study over the age of 65 and with night-time exposure to over 42 decibels of noise were the specific category found to be affected. People under the age of 65 did not show the same trend.

Other elements of the study found no conclusive evidence of a connection between long or short-term exposure to wind turbine noise and embolisms in the heart or strokes.

Neither was any link found between long-term exposure to wind turbine noise and late-onset diabetes.

Henrik Winther, director of the Danish Wind Energy Association (Danmarks Vindmølleforening), accepted the findings of the research.

“It is positive that this long-term and thorough research has now reached a conclusion. The public, local politicians and the wind energy sector have waited a long time for it, and the overall picture from the study is that there is no clear connection,” Winther said in a press statement.

“The study as a whole has thereby fulfilled its political purpose: to provide more knowledge, which can help to ease the concerns some may have had,” he added.

The most comprehensive study of its kind in Denmark, the newly-published research was commenced in 2014.

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