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To us, the study of negative air ions is fascinating. There is much that science doesn't yet know about negative charged ions, just as there is much that they don't yet know about electricity. In fact, the flow of the electrons and negative ions through the air has been called air electricity. Likewise, just as electricity is capable of doing many things, so can negative ions.


"...Negative ion exposure appeared associated with feeling better about self, less sensitive, and more responsive or innervated (energized)."
Journal of Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicinee

 

Negative ions help freshen and purify the air by causing allergens such as pollen, mold spores, dust, and animal dander floating in the air (which have either a neutral or a positive charge) to be attracted to and stick to each other, forming 'clumps' (because opposite charges attract). These clumps of particles then become heavy enough so that gravity can pull them down to the floor, where they can be vacuumed up, rather than staying in suspension where they can be breathed in and cause allergic reactions.

Negative Air Ions help kill germs in the air
Research has shown that negative air ions have a
bactericidal effect [PDF] on airborne bacteria.

Depression & Mood
Negative ions also have been shown to help lift mood, alleviate depression and seasonal affective disorder (winter depression or SAD). There is even a patent by a prominent researcher and institution for the treatment of depression with negative ions.

Because there is no fan (like in filter-type air filters or room air purifiers), the dust on floors and tables is not stirred up, and so the air in a room with a negative ionizer in use can become exceedingly free of dust and pollen.

 

Often, when a negative ionizer is in use, the dust particles than can normally be seen in a sunbeam shining in the window are either partially or totally gone.

 

 Negative ionization of the air does a superb job of eliminating most tiny particles that float in the air. They are normally suspended in the air (even when the air in the room seems calm) just by the normal convective air currents. You've seen dust floating in a beam of sunlight shining in the window, haven't you? Well, when a high-density negative ionizer (such as our IG-133- series models) is in operation in the room, you see very little (if any) of that. It's really quite impressive to experience. That is the reason they can help people with allergies: they help remove dust, pollen, mold spores, and other allergens from the air. Of course, if you have a window open on a windy day and the pollen is blowing in, no negative ionizer will clear the air quickly enough to help anyone.

 

Ionized room air does not have to pass through a filter or be circulated by a fan to be cleaned. The negative ions generated by the ionizer emanate from the unit throughout the room and cause dust, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, etc. to clump together and drop out of the air. In a filter-type purifier with a fan or blower, only the air that goes through the filter can be cleaned. And even then, the tiniest particles still can flow through the filter. These tiny particulates can be better removed by ionization than filtering, even HEPA filters.

 

 

But why in the world are
they called NEGATIVE ions?

After all,
  • Negative ions can have a positive effect on people.
  • But positive ions can have a negative effect on people.

Furthermore,

  • An atom that has one of its normal orbiting electrons removed is called a positive ion. (Doesn't "positive" imply that something has been added?)
  • But an atom that has an extra electron added is called a negative ion. (Doesn't "negative" imply that something has been removed?)

So you see, it's really kind of backwards; the terms Negative and Positive are actually reversed, in this context. It's a misnomer that we can blame on Benjamin Franklin (so we hear) who lived in the 1700's. Back in his time, electrons (with a "negative" charge) and atoms were not understood correctly. But the word negative is still being used this way; to this day, an atom with an extra electron is still called a negative ion.

So, we're all still stuck with this 18th century terminology, and that's why they're called "negative ions".

 

 

High levels of negative ions ...
Are desirable. They're naturally found in places like the beach, in the mountains, in the country, in pine forests, near waterfalls, and many other places that people like to be -- all the places that we feel good after we visit them.

Negative ions are found at the seashore

The evaporation of water can produce a moderate amount of negative air ions; the small positive charges are left behind in the water.


High levels of Positive ions ...
Are undesirable. They're found:

  • Indoors where a TV or computer monitor (CRT) is operating
  • Indoors and outdoors where warm, dry winds blow
  • Wherever the air is polluted. Air pollution uses up negative ions
  • Air is stripped of electrons as it flows through ductwork, creating unwanted positive ions.

 

 

  • "Remember that feeling you've experienced near a waterfall or high in the mountains? Those are two places that thousands of negative ions occur. They create an effect on human biochemistry."

     
  • "The normal Ion count in fresh country air is 2,000 to 4,000 negative Ions per cubic centimeter (about the size of a sugar cube). At Yosemite Falls, you'll experience over 100,000 negative Ions per cubic centimeter. On the other hand, the level is far below 100 per cubic centimeter on the Los Angeles freeways during rush hour."

     
  • "While ionization of the air is mandatory in many European and Russian hospitals and work places, it has only recently come to light in our country with the growing problem of toxic air in our urban environments."
     

 

From "Whole Self", Spring 1991, an article entitled "Ions and Consciousness".

 

 

 

Technically Speaking:
Ions are charged particles in the air that are formed in nature in different ways. One way is when enough energy acts upon a molecule such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, or water to eject an electron from the molecule leaving a positively charged ion. The displaced electron attaches itself to a nearby molecule, which then becomes a negatively charged ion. It is the negative ion of oxygen that affects us the most.

 

Ions are not just static electricity! Some web sites claim that, but that is not accurate.

 

Negative Air Ions help kill airborne bacteria

Negative air ions bacteria kill rate chart

Reduction in viability of bacteria in the presence of negative air ions
And the absence of either ozone or positive air ions.

The survival fractions shown are the mean of 5 replicates.
Fletcher et al. BMC Microbiology 2007 7:32   doi:10.1186/1471-2180-7-32


 

Article about Negative Ions
Ions Can Do Strange Things To You

 

Researchers believe that our moods, energy and health can be markedly improved through control of the electrical charges in the air we breathe. by Robert O'Brian
The Rotarian
 

It was RCA's Dr. Hansell who, in 1932, stumbled upon the behavioral effects of artificially generated air ions.

He noticed a startling swing in the moods of a fellow RCA scientist who worked beside an electrostatic generator.

  • Some days the scientist finished work alert and in bubbling good spirits.
  • On other days he was rude, ill-tempered, depressed.

Why? Dr. Hansell investigated and found that the scientist was happy when the ion generator was adjusted to produce negative ions, morose when it was producing positive ions. A few months later, reports of ionization research in Europe confirmed the strange experience.

A few years ago atmospheric ions became suddenly important to military, researchers in environmental medicine. How would they affect men locked in submarines? In space ships? What were the possibilities of ions therapy? Research programs multiplied, with fantastic results.

One sweltering day in Philadelphia a man sat before a small metal box resting atop a hospital file cabinet. It was plugged into an ordinary wall socket. A doctor flipped a switch. Inside the box a small fan whirred; the box hummed distantly, like a high-tension wire, and gave off a faint, sweetish odor. Soon the man felt alert, magical, refreshed, as though he had been taking deep gulps of sparkling October air. The doctor turned the machine off, switched on another that looked just like it. The air grew quickly stale. The man's head felt stuffy. His eyes smarted. His head began to ache. He felt vaguely depressed and tired.

With this simple experiment, the scientist, Dr. Igho H. Kornblueh, of the American institute of Medical Climatology, demonstrated the effect that atmospheric ions can have on human beings. The first machine generated negative ions; the second positive ions.

The air around us is filled with these electrically charged particles. They are generated in invisible billions by cosmic rays, radioactive elements in the soil, ultraviolet radiation, storms, waterfall, winds, the friction of blowing sand or dust. Every time we draw a breath they fill our lungs and are carried by the blood to our body cells. They appear to have a lot to do with such varied things as our moods, why cattle grow skittish before a storm, why rheumatic joints "tingle" when the barometer falls, and how ants know in advance that it's going to rain, in time to block their tunnels.

Falling barometric pressure and hot, dry, seasonal winds, such as the Alpine Fohn and the Rocky Mountain Chinook, for example, pack the air with an excess of positive ions. Not everyone is affected; healthy young people swiftly adapt to the change. But countless others are distressed. The aged come down with respiratory complaints, aching joints; asthma sufferers wheeze and gasp; children grow cranky and perverse; crime and suicide rates climb.

On the other hand, a preponderance of negative ions spices the air with exhilarating freshness. We feel on top of the world.

Dr. C. W. Hansell, research fellow at RCA Laboratories and an international authority on ionization, illustrates the effect with a story about his ten-year-old daughter. "We were outside, watching the approach of a thunderstorm. I knew that clouds of negative ions were filling the air. Suddenly my daughter began to dance across the grass, a radiant look in her face. She leaped up on a low boulder, threw her arms wide to the dark sky, and cried. 'Oh, I feel wonderful!'"

Negative ions "cure" nothing that we know of, at most afford relief only so long as one inhales them. Many doctors doubt their therapeutic effects. But there is a growing army of people who swear by them.

At the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate Hospital and at Northeastern and Frankford hospitals in Philadelphia, Dr. Kornblueh and his associates have administered negative-ion treatments to hundreds of patients suffering from hay fever or bronchial asthma. Of the total, 63 percent have experienced partial to total relief. "They come in sneezing, eyes watering, noses itching, worn out from lack of sleep, so miserable they can hardly walk," one doctor told me. "Fifteen minutes in front of the negative-ion machine and they feel so much better they don't want to leave."

In Philadelphia Dr. Kornblueh studied brain-wave patterns and found evidence that negative ions tranquilized persons in severe pain. In one dramatic test he held a negative ionizer to the nose and mouth of a factory worker who had been rushed to Northeastern Hospital with second-degree steam burns on his back and legs. In minutes the pain was gone. Morphine, customarily administered in such cases, was never necessary.

 

Today all burn cases at Northeastern are immediately put in a windowless, ion conditioned room. In ten minutes, usually, the pain has gone. Patients are left in the room for 30 minutes. The treatment is repeated three times every 24 hours. In 85 percents of the cases no pain-deadening narcotics are needed. Says Northeastern's Dr. Robert McGowan, "Negative ions make burns dry out faster, heal faster and with less scarring. They also reduce the need for skin-grafting. They make the patient more optimistic. He sleeps better."

Encouraged by this success in burn therapy, Dr. Kornblueh, Dr. J. R. Minehart, Northeastern's chief surgeon, and his associate Dr. T. A. David boldly tried negative ions in relief of deep, postoperative pain. During an eight month test period they exposed 138 patients to negative ions on the first and second days after surgery. Dr. Kornblueh has just announced the results at a London congress of bioclimatologists. In 79 cases 57 percent of the total negative ions eliminated or drastically reduced pain. "At first," says Dr. Minehart, "I thought it was voodoo. Now I'm convinced that it's real and revolutionary."

Experiments by Dr. Albert P. Krueger and Dr. Richard F. Smith at the University of California have shown how ionization affects those sensitive to airborne allergens. Our bronchial tubes and trachea, or windpipe, are lined with tiny filaments called cilia. The cilia normally maintain a whip like motion of about 900 beats a minute. Together with mucus, they keep our air passages free of dust and pollen. Krueger and Smith exposed tracheal tissue to negative ions, found that the ciliary beat was speeded up 1200 a minute and that mucus flow was increased. Doses of positive ions produced the opposite effect: ciliary beat slowed to 600 a minute or less; the flow of mucus dropped.

In experiments that may prove important in cancer research. Drs. Krueger and Smith also discovered that cigarette smoke slows down the cilia and impairs their ability to clear foreign, and possibly carcinogenic (cancer-inducing), substances from the lungs. Positive ions, administered along with cigarette smoke, lowered the ciliary beat as before, but from three to ten time faster than in normal air.

Negative ions however, counteracted the effects of the smoke. Observed Dr. Krueger, "The agent in cigarette smoke that slows down the ciliary beat is not known. Whatever it may be, its action is effectively neutralized by negative ions, which raise the ciliary beat as well in a heavy atmosphere of cigarette smoke as they do in fresh air."

How do ions trip off our moods? Most authorities agree that ions act on our capacity to absorb and utilize oxygen. Negative ions in the blood stream accelerate the delivery of oxygen to our cells and tissues, frequently giving us the same euphoric jolt that we get from a few whiffs of straight oxygen. Positive ions slow down the delivery of oxygen, producing symptoms markedly like those in anoxia, or oxygen starvation. Researchers also believe that negative ions may stimulate the reticuloendothelial system; a group of defense cells in our bodies which marshal our resistance to disease.

Dr. Krueger predicts that we shall some day regulate the ion level indoors much as we now regulate temperature and humidity. Ironically, today's air-conditioned buildings, trains and planes frequently become supercharged with harmful positive ions because the metal blowers, filters and ducts of air-conditioning systems strip the air of negative ions before it reaches its destination. Says RCA's Dr. Hansell, "This explains why so many people in air conditioned spots feel depressed and have an urge to throw open a window."

Air conditioner manufacturers are designing new systems that increase negative ionization. The American Broadcasting Co. will equip its new 30 story New York City headquarters with ion control. Two national concerns, Philco and Emerson Electric, already have ion control air conditioning systems on the market. RCA, Westinghouse, General Electric and Carrier Corp. have similar products under study or development.

We still have much to learn about atmospheric ions . But researches believe that these magic bits of electricity, under artificial control, will soon be helping millions to healthier, happier, more productive lives.

 


 

Article from Journal of Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine (August 1982 p. 822-823)

   One group of subjects served as controls and was confirmed to the test chamber for a 6-hour period under air ion conditions typical of an energy- efficient building.
   The second group was similarly confined, but ion generators began operating two hours before occupancy and continued all six hours of confinement. Generators were masked for all indications of operation, and were also present under control conditions but not turned on. Data from both groups were collected under double-blind conditions.

Summary of Results:
"Subjective perceptions of psychological state, using individual 'normalcy' as standard, reflected significant differences between control and negative ion exposure groups. Prominent perceptions reported were reductions in irritability, depression, and tenseness, and increases in calmness and stimulation associated with ion exposure. For psychological state, negative ion exposure appeared associated with feeling better about self, less sensitive, and more responsive or innervated (energized)."

Authors: L.W. Buckalew and A. Rizzuto

Source: Air Force Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force base, Dayton Ohio

 

FOLLOW THESE LINKS TO READ MORE:

Scientific research | Proof Positive | Ions vs. ozone | Depression | SAD

 



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