“Negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy,” says Pierce J. Howard, PhD, author of The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research and director of research at the Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C.
“They also may protect against germs in the air, resulting in decreased irritation due to inhaling various particles that make you sneeze, cough, or have a throat irritation.
And for a whopping one in three of us who are sensitive to their effects, negative ions can make us feel like we are walking on air. You are one of them if you feel instantly refreshed the moment you open a window and breathe in fresh, humid air.
You may be one of them if you feel sleepy when you are around an air-conditioner, but feel immediately refreshed and invigorated when you step outside or roll down the car window,” Howard says. “Air conditioning depletes the atmosphere of negative ions, but an ion generator re-releases the ions that air conditioners remove.”
Negative ions are created in nature with air molecules broken apart from sunlight, radiation, and moving air or water. In
“The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods,” says ion researcher Michael Terman, PhD, of Columbia University in New York.
In a study conducted by Columbia University, 25 people with SAD (Seasonal Affective Depression) sat in front of a negative ion air purifier for a half hour every morning for a month. Half the subjects were given a low level of negative ions, and the other half a high level. The higher level of negative ion treatment proved to be as effective against SAD as antidepressants, such as Prozac and Zolof, and without the side effects of these drugs.
Negative ions are odorless tasteless molecules that are breathed into our respiratory system. High concentrations of negative ions can be found in nature in mountain forests, waterfalls, and beaches where people feel energized and invigorated, which helps relieve stress, alleviate depression, boost energy.
Studies Proving the Effectiveness of Negative Ions
Negative ions help prevent respiratory-related illnesses.
In a study conducted in a Swiss textile mill, negative ionizers were placed in two, 60’ by 60’ rooms, each containing 22 employees. In one room, the negative ion electronic air cleaner was turned on during the course of the study. In the other room, the negative ion air purifier was permanently turned off, although the employees in this room were led to believe they were working in a room enriched by negative ions. During this six-month study, a total of 22 sick days were lost by employees working in the room in which the negative ionizer was operating. In the room where the machine was not operating, a total of 64 days were lost to sickness. During a month-long flu epidemic, the first group lost a total of 3 days to sickness, while the second group lost a total of 40 days to sickness (Stark, 1971).
In a test involving a Swiss bank office, one group of 309 worked in a negative ion-treated environment. A second group of 362 worked in an untreated environment. Over the next several months, for every day lost to respiratory illness (cold, flu, laryngitis, etc.) in group one, 16 days were lost to respiratory illness in group two (Soyka, 1991).
In a Surrey University study at the Norwich Union Insurance Group headquarters, eight negative ion generators were placed in the computer and data preparation section. Before the test, the research team spent a month compiling incident rates for complaints of sickness and headaches. During the test in which the negative ion air purification systems were in operation, incidents of sickness and headaches were reduced by 78%. After testing was completed, the Norwich Union opted to keep the negative ion electronic air cleaners (Soyka, 1991).
Negative ions counteract the effects of smoking.
High levels of negative ions neutralize the effect that tobacco smoke has on the cilia. Cilia are the microscopic hairs located in the trachea that move rapidly back and forth to prevent pollutants and toxins from traveling into the vulnerable areas of the respiratory tract. The faster the cilia move, the more effective they are. However, tobacco smoke slows down the ciliary beat, diminishing the body’s ability to keep cancer-causing pollutants from entering the depths of the respiratory tract. Tests have shown though, that adding high levels of negative ions to the air accelerates the ciliary beat to normal levels (Soyka, 1991).
Negative ions are a natural anti-depressant and without the side effects.
In a study conducted by Columbia University, 25 people with SAD (Seasonal Affective Depression) sat in front of a negative ion air purifier for a half hour every morning for a month. Half the subjects were given a low level of negative ions, and the other half a high level. The higher level of negative ion treatment proved to be as effective against SAD as antidepressants, such as Prozac and Zolof, and without the side effects of these drugs (Finley, 1996).
Negative ions for a positive attitude.
Positive ions, which are found in abundance in most indoor environments, cause an overproduction of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps the body deal with mental, emotional, and physiological stress. An overproduction initially causes hyperactivity, which rapidly leads to anxiety, and in some cases depression. Negative ion treatment has proven to be successful in reducing the overproduction of serotonin, and therefore successful in alleviating depression in some cases (Kreuger, 1957).
Negative Ions help us to sleep better.
In 1969, French researcher found that the overproduction of the neurohormone serotonin caused sleeplessness and nightmares. In using a negative ion electronic air cleaner to treat a group of people experiencing sleeping problems as a result of serotonin overproduction, he found that most of them were able to sleep better (Soyka, 1991).
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
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).
The U.S.D.A. also performed another study to test the effectiveness of negative ionization at removing airborne Salmonella Enteritidis. The negative ions drastically reduced the airborne salmonella particles, prompting the following statement from the USDA:
“These results indicate that negative air ionization can have a significant impact on the airborne microbial load in a poultry house and at least a portion of this effect is through direct killing of the organisms.”
Good Housekeeping Magazine.
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.
Agriculture Research Service (of USDA).
The Agriculture Research Service of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture tested the effectiveness of ionizers for removing dust in a poultry hatchery. The dust level is very high in such an environment. In this study, the use of an ionizer resulted in dust removal efficiencies that averaged between 81.1 and 92.2%. The airborne transmission of salmonella (to the eggs) was also significantly reduced as a result.
Journal of Hygiene.
Scientists showed that ionization reduced bacterial levels in burns and plastic surgery units by over 96% after a two week period, which results in much better and more rapid healing of patients.
Journal of Applied Microbiology.
The use of negative ions was even found by scientists to reduce the presence of airborne viruses by about 40%. A study featured in the 1987 issue also showed the negative ions are free from any adverse side effects.
A 1976 study featured in this publication provided evidence that negative ions can have a biologically lethal effect on airborne microorganisms.
Journal of Hygiene.
A 1979 study found that using negative ionization in the air protected chickens from airborne infection of the deadly Newcastle Disease Virus.
Journal of Food Protection.
A 2001 study found that airborne negative ionization was highly effective at destroying airborne and surface salmonella.
University of Medicine and Pharmacy (Romania).
A test on male rats showed that just moderate levels of negative ions increased the resistance of the rats, reducing or eliminating the effect of some chemicals.