|About Negative Ions
"...negative ion exposure appeared associated with feeling better about self, less sensitive, and more responsive or innervated
of Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine
Negative ions do more than one
1. Depression and mood
Negative ions have been shown to help
lift mood, alleviate depression and seasonal affective disorder (winter depression or SAD),
and promote a sense of well-being. There is
even a patent by a prominent
researcher and institution for the treatment of depression with negative ions.
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
Authors: L.W. Buckalew and A. Rizzuto
Source: Air Force Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force base, Dayton Ohio
High levels of negative ions are found at 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.
The evaporation of water can produce a moderate amount negative ions in the air; the small positive charges are left
behind in the water.
- "Remember that feeling you've experienced near a waterfall or high in the
are two places that thousands of negative ions occur. They create an effect on human
- "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".
2. 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.
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.
Ions are not static electricity!
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
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.
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.
But why are
- Negative ions can have a positive effect on people.
- But positive ions can have a negative effect on people.
- 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
Ions Can Do Strange Things To You
by Robert O'Brian
Researchers believe that through control of the electrical charges in the air we breathe, our
moods, energy and health can be markedly improved.
It was RCA's Dr. Hansell
who, in 1932, stumbled upon the behavioral effects of artificially generated
ions. He notice 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
depressed. Dr. Hansell investigated found that the scientist was happy
when the 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.
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, important to our resistance to diseases).
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
The doctor then 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 one
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
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
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
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
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."
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."
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
We still have much to learn about atmospheric
ions. But researchers believe that these magic bits of electricity, under artificial
control, will soon be helping millions to healthier, happier, more productive