The WHO guidelines on environmental noise highlight that evidence on the health effects of wind turbine sound levels is either non-existent or of poor quality. In this context, a feasibility study was conducted in France in 2017. The objective was to suggest a methodology for calculating wind turbine sound levels in order to quantify the number of windfarms' residents exposed to this sound. Based on a literature review, the Harmonoise model was selected for sound exposure calculation. It was validated by quantifying its uncertainties, and finally used to estimate the population exposed to wind turbine sound in metropolitan France. Compared to other environmental noise sources (e.g., transportation), sound exposure is very moderate, with more than 80% of the exposed people exposed to sound levels below 40 dBA. The total number of people exposed to more than 30 dBA is about 686,000 and 722,000 people for typical daytime and night-time meteorological conditions respectively, i.e., about 1% of the French population in 2017. These results represent the first ever assessment of sound exposure from wind turbines at the scale of the entire metropolitan France.
Keywords: environmental noise; public health; sound exposure; wind turbine.