Electromagnetic fields (EMF) permeate the built environment in different forms and come from a number of sources including electrical wiring and devices, wireless communication, 'energy-efficient' lighting, and appliances. It can be present in the indoor environment directly from indoor sources, or can be transmitted through building materials from outside sources. Scientists have identified it as an indoor environmental pollutant or toxin that has ubiquitously plagued developed nations causing a variety of adverse health effects such as sick-building syndrome symptoms, asthma, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, leukemia, electro-hypersensitivity (EHS), behavior disorders, and more. There is currently no international consensus on guidelines and exposure limits. This paper presents the results of 29 EMF field audits in single family residential dwellings located within an urban neighborhood in Toronto (Canada). The following EMF spectra were evaluated: radio frequency, power frequency electric fields, power frequency magnetic fields and high frequency voltage transients. The field audits were conducted in order to provide initial baseline statistics to be used in future studies and in order to be compared to a low-cost EMF reduction design incorporated within the Renovation2050 research house - located within the test neighborhood. The results show the low-cost reduction strategy to be effective, on average reducing exposure by 80% for high-intensity EMF metrics. Research of this nature has not been conducted with relation to the built environment and can be used to spark an industry movement to design for low-exposure to EMF in a residential context.
Keywords: Electromagnetic fields; Mitigation strategies; Neighborhood field study; Occupant health; Single-family residential dwellings.