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What are Negative Ions?

What are Negative Ions?They're oxygen atoms with an extra electron.  And they can help you feel better.
"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."
Technically speaking: "Ions are charged particles in the air that are formed in nature when enough energy acts upon a molecule such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, water, or nitrogen 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."
From "Whole Self", Spring 1991, an article entitled "Ions and Consciousness."

Negative ions are electrically-charged particles in the air that remove airborne contaminates from the air we breathe, and have a rejuvenating effect when interacting with physiological systems (such as the respiratory system).

Have you ever noticed how refreshing the air is when you're in the mountains, near a beach, in the forest, or by a waterfall? Or how revitalized you feel? The explanation for this is that these places are usually loaded with billions of negative ions.

After a lightning storm, most of us feel invigorated and refreshed. This is because the electrical storm has generated trillions of gloriously tranquilizing negative ions that ease tension and leave us full of energy.

Scientific studies have shown that atmospheres charged with negative ions relieve hay-fever and asthma symptoms, seasonal depression, fatigue and headaches. It's also been shown that negatively ionized atmospheres improve performance of voluntary movement, increase work capacity, sharpen mental functioning, and reduce error rates.

Studies at Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute have demonstrated that High Density Negative Ionizers appear to act as a specific antidepressant for patients with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Remarkable as it may seem, a room charged with negative ions was shown to stem bacteria growth and precipitate many airborne contaminants including pollen, dust and dust mites, viruses, second-hand cigarette smoke, animal dander, odors and toxic chemical fumes.

How do negative ions remove pollutants from the air?
Most floating contaminants and allergens are positively charged, and of course, negative ions are negatively charged. This results in a magnetic attraction among the floating pollutants in the air, causing them to aggregate, or clump together.

As a result, they become too heavy to remain floating in the air, and fall harmlessly to the ground, where they cannot find their way into your respiratory tract.

At this point, even if they are inhaled before falling out of the air, these now larger particles are able to be intercepted by the "filters" of the upper respiratory tract, due to their increased size.

Of course, without a continual generation of negative ions, some of these enlarged pollutants can find their way back into the air.

Some studies suggest that negative ions also have a biological effect on bacteria and viruses, killing them on contact in many cases.

Negative Ion Facts

  • Approved by the U.S. FDA (Food & Drug Admin.) as an approved allergy treatment.
  • Ionization is mandatory in many European and Russian Hospitals.
  • In March of 1999, Good Housekeeping Magazine had its engineers test an ionizer by using a smoke test, and found that it cleared out the smoke in a tank.
  • A recent study by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture found that ionizing a room led to 52% less dust in the air, and 95% less bacteria in the air (since many of the pollutants found in the air reside on floating dust particles).

Causes and effects of negative ion exposure and depletion

EFFECTS OF NEGATIVE ION EXPOSURE

Studies have shown that some people become very depressed when negative ion counts are very low, or in the wintertime (seasonal depression).
A high negative ion exposure appeared associated with feeling better about self, less sensitive, and more responsive or innervated (energized). -From August, 1982 issue of Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine.
"Results indicated that subjects had faster reaction times and reported feeling significantly more energetic under negative Air Ion conditions then under normal air conditions."
- From Influence of Negative Air Ions on Human performance and Mood.
"... The introduction of negative ion generation increased the subjective rating of alertness, atmospheric freshness, and environmental and personal warmth.
"Fresh country air has negative ions that have been demonstrated to both treat and prevent depression."
From Depression: The Way Out, by Neil Nedley, M.D. REF

CAUSES OF NEGATIVE ION DEPLETION

The picture tubes (CRTs) in computer monitors and TVs deplete the air of negative ions.
So does the airflow through furnace ducts and air conditioning systems.
Research has also shown that polluted areas both indoors and outdoors have very low levels of negative ions, and very high levels of positive ions. It would seem that all or most of the available negative ions had been used up in their fight with contaminants. Dry hot winds (like the famed Santa Ana, or Witches' Winds) also deplete negative ions from the air.
Negative ion generators (negative ionizers) have been used for years to help rid closed indoor environments of allergens such as dust particles, animal dander, pollen, mold spores, cigarette smoke, cigar smoke, PM10 particulate matter, etc. floating in the air.
The negative ions cause microscopic particles (particulates) floating in a room, that cause some people to have allergic reactions, to clump together and fall to the floor (or other surfaces) where they can be vacuumed up. This is due to an electrostatic charge between the negative ions and other air molecules and particles in the air.
Removes finer particles than either HEPA filters, electronic air cleaners, or any other type of air purifier available. A fan-type air filter can only filter the air that is drawn through it, whereas negative ions disperse throughout the room causing particles to drop out of the air.
According to the book The Ion Effect, negative ions are effective for allergies, asthma, catarrh, hay fever, sinusitus, eczema, burns, emphysema, and even as a substitute for tranquilizers. It was discovered that negative ions balance serotonin in the body, and this explains why people tend to feel more alert, stable and energized in the presence of negative ions. Dr. Krenger found that bacteria, staphylococci, and fungi growth is halted in the presence of negative ions, which explains the healing side effect. Dr. I. Kombluch mounted experiments at Northeastern Hospital, and at the Frankford Hospital in Philadelphia where he was able to report that 63% of patients suffering from hay fever or bronchial asthma "have experienced partial or total relief" from negative ion therapy. Russian studies reveal that positive (not negative) ions, on the other hand, make breathing more difficult. Negative ions neutralize positive ions.

Negative Ions: Some Scientific Research

Negative Ions and Positive Vibes

Negative ion generators are curious little devices--their manufacturers' claims are inevitably followed by exclamation marks. "Is your air healthy?" asks one ad. "Recreate fresh mountain quality air indoors!" Negative ions, say manufacturers, make you feel alive, revitalized, and alert while relieving depression, headaches, and allergies. Trillions of these incredible negative ions somehow are supposed to kill bacteria and make plants grow better.
But do such claims have any scientific basis?
Possibly. First, it is true that the number of "small ions" in the air --electrically charged molecules and atoms that are highly mobile-- varies widely. Clean outdoor air may have 1,000 positive and 1,000 negative ions in each cubic centimeter, while polluted city air probably has fewer, and air- conditioned offices may have only 100.
Commercial ion generators can indeed change indoor ion levels drastically. When a high negative voltage is sent into a needle point, it generates both positive and [sic] negative ions. The negative ions are repelled by the negative needle (like electric charges repel) and blown into the room by a fan. The physics of ion measurements are almost certainly more complex than manufacturers and some experimenters recognize. However, an efficient ion generator may bring a room to even higher negative ion levels than typically found outdoors.
The question is whether increasing the number of negative ions makes people feel more comfortable and work more efficiently. The answer is especially important in regard to the video screens that display words and numbers at computer terminals. These screens, which many users say cause fatigue and headaches, usually have positive voltages strong enough to wipe out nearby negative ions.
L. H. Hawkins, from the Human Biology and Health Department of the University of Surrey in England, has performed two sets of experiments to find out how negative ions affect people. In the first set, Hawkins maintained high levels of negative ions in a room part of the time, but maintained predominately positive ions in the room the rest of the time. The people in the room, unaware that the ions were being manipulated, performed standard tasks.
When the ions were negative, the subjects did 25 percent better at complicated tasks such as drawing something while looking at its reverse image in a mirror. There was a smaller but statistically significant 6 percent improvement in simpler tests such as reaction time. Women seemed more sensitive to ions than men, and high humidity and temperature tended to wash out the benefit of negative ions.
In a second test, Hawkins installed two commercial ion generators in a congested computer office. The fans on these generators could be switched on separately from the ionizers, and with the fans always running, nobody in the office knew whether the ionizer was working. According to Hawkins' measurements, with the ionizer on, the office had about 3,500 negative and 100 positive ions per cubic centimeter of air; with it off there were about 550 negative and 500 positive ions.
At the end of their shifts, the 54 people in the office filled out questionnaires about how they felt and how they rated their environment. Negative ions did seem to produce positive effects. Workers complained of headaches in only 6 percent of the shifts when the ionizer was operating, but they complained in 26 percent of the shifts when it was off. The questionnaires revealed similar increases in how pleasant workers felt and decreases in complaints about nausea and dizziness.

Negative Ions for the Brain*

The atmosphere we breathe normally is full of positive and negative ions. Air conditioning, lack of ventilation, and long dry spells remove negative ions, which usually serve to latch onto airborne dirt particles and wrestle them to the floor, rendering the air purer. Roughly one-third of the population seems to be particularly sensitive to negative-ion depletion. The proportion of negative ions is highest around moving water (storms, oceans, rivers, waterfalls)It's no wonder that we feel so energized at the beach. The best ratios of negative to positive ions are associated with waterfalls and the time before, during, and after storms. The worst are found in windowless rooms and closed, moving vehicles. Air purifiers typically work by emitting negative ions, which purify room air by attaching to impurities and sinking them.
High concentrations of negative ions are essential for high energy and positive mood (Thayer, 1996)[1]. In fact, Marian Diamond, a professor of neuroanatomy at the University of California, Berkeley, has found that levels of negative ions are inversely related to levels of serotonin in the brain. Negative ions suppress serotonin levels in much the same way that natural sunlight suppresses melatonin. Hence the invigorating effect of fresh air and sunshine and the correspondingly depressed feelings associated with being closed in and dark. If you deplete the air of negative ions, you experience an increase in serotonin and its attendant drowsiness and relaxationnot what you want when mental agility is demanded. Diamond's research (1988)[2], along with other information on ions, is summarized in Yepsen (1987).[3]

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