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Noise and EMF Review - ABT Associates Parcel


Sound Study


An NSTAR substation, located in Cambridge, MA was causing concerns because of the electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation and noise emitting from the substation. There was a proposal for a mixed-use building of residences and office space to be constructed near the substation and the company performing the environmental due diligence required assistance from Tech. Tech collected measurements, wrote a report, and helped to design a sound wall. From the sound level monitoring, a low frequency, buzzing noise, was identified as being emitted from a power transformer of the substation. In addition, a significant noise measurement was collected from the rooftop units on top of the nearby CVS. To mitigate the noise nuisance, a ten foot wall was already being considered by the company performing due diligence. Following the sound monitoring, Tech concluded that a ten foot wall would not be as effective as an acoustical barrier, and would mostly provide visual shielding. Through calculations, Tech found that the wall would have to be 25-feet tall to provide any meaningful sound attenuation. Because a wall of that scale was impracticable for the site, Tech proposed high-STC windows as an alternative mitigation technique. When Tech performed the analysis on the EMF radiation, the engineers found that the measured radiation levels were all well below the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection exposure limit for the general public, and therefore, not a concern.

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Key Points

  • A proposal for both a residential and office building near a substation in Cambridge, MA was causing health and safety concerns for future occupants because of noise and an electromagnetic field emitting from the substation.
  • Tech performed sound level monitoring and provided suggested mitigation measures for decreasing the sound heard at the nearby residences. Tech found there to be no concern of radiation, following the analysis.