Objective: To characterize the exposure to electric fields and magnetic fields of non-ionizing radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum (15 Hz to 100 kHz) in the dwellings of children from the Spanish Environment and Childhood-"INMA" population-based birth cohort.
Methodology: The study sample was drawn from the INMA-Granada cohort. Out of 300 boys participating in the 9-10 year follow-up, 123 families agreed to the exposure assessment at home and completed a specific ad hoc questionnaire gathering information on sources of non-ionizing radiation electric and magnetic fields inside the homes and on patterns of use. Long-term indoor measurements were carried out in the living room and bedroom.
Results: Survey data showed a low exposure in the children's homes according to reference levels of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection but with large differences among homes in mean and maximum values. Daytime electrostatic and magnetic fields were below the quantification limit in 78.6% (92 dwellings) and 92.3% (108 dwellings) of houses, with an arithmetic mean value (± standard deviation) of 7.31±9.32 V/m and 162.30±91.16 nT, respectively. Mean magnetic field values were 1.6 lower during the night than the day. Nocturnal electrostatic values were not measured. Exposure levels were influenced by the area of residence (higher values in urban/semi-urban versus rural areas), type of dwelling, age of dwelling, floor of the dwelling, and season.
Conclusion: Given the greater sensitivity to extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields of children and following the precautionary principle, preventive measures are warranted to reduce their exposure.