Uncle Bobs Tips: Generator Guide

Negative Ion Generators

Negative ion generators are devices that emit a stream of negative ions into the air.

Ions are electrically charged particles in the air that are negatively charged, positively charged or neutral. Most particles in the air, including contaminants and allergens, have a positive charge, while negative ions have a negative charge. This results in a magnetic attraction among the particles in the air, causing them to aggregate, or clump together. When they become too heavy to remain floating in the air, they fall harmlessly to the ground and as a result, contaminants are prevented from being inhaled into the respiratory tract where they can trigger breathing and health problems.

Since negative ions remove airborne contaminates from the air we breathe, they are said to have a rejuvenating effect when interacting with physiological systems (such as the respiratory system). In nature, negative ions are generated by processes such as sunlight, lightening, waves from the ocean, and from waterfalls. 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 negative ions.

A negative ion generator is a device that emits a stream of negative ions into the air. The result is a cleaner, fresher air due to the electrostatic settling of dust and the invigorating effect of breathing negative ions. In addition, a negative ion generator reduces airborne odors due to trace quantities of ozone produced at the tip of the negative ion generator needles.

The working principle of negative ion generators is simple. The electrical charge on an object is greatest at the sharpest point, so if a high negative voltage is applied to a sharp needle then the charge at the tip is so high that ions are literally thrown off and then repelled by the negative field on the needle. Negative ion generators use electrode pins ("needle points") to electrically produce negative ions (in a very dark room you can even see a faint purple corona glow on the needle tips).

Most technical wisdom suggests that while negative ions make you feel good, positive ions can cause headaches and nausea. This is why a negative ion generator can improve the perceived atmosphere in an office that has a high positive ion balance. 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. It has been shown that a room charged with negative ions emitted from a negative ion generator stemmed bacteria growth and precipitated many airborne contaminants including pollen, dust and dust mites, viruses, second-hand cigarette smoke, animal dander, odors and toxic chemical fumes.

Today, negative ion generators are sold as air cleaners/fresheners and are available as desktop or tabletop negative ion generators, wall mountable negative ion generators, and car negative ion generators. Some ion generators can be set up to generate either negative or positive ions. Among recent negative ion generator innovations is a wearable negative ion generator that is said to "surround you with mountain fresh air all day long, while purifying the air around you with a powerful stream of charged electrons (Ions) and ultraviolet light". Designed to be worn around the neck and resting on the upper part of the chest, a continuous stream of 70 trillion ions per second flows towards your face. A round magnet attached to a nylon cord rests on the upper part of your back and is designed to reinforce your body's magnetic field. This negative ion generator operates 40 hours continuously with one 3 - volt lithium battery (included).

Negative ion generators range from $30-$150 and can be found in some department stores and drug stores. Cheaper models can be found at garage sales and Salvation Army stores.

A word of caution: Note that negative ion generators can deliver small static electric shocks. Never remove the case of a negative ion generator or stick any object through slots in the case, since the electric power connections within can electrocute you. Also, if you have respiratory difficulties and use a negative ion generator in your bedroom at night, beware that the negative ion generator may keep you alert and awake longer then you might want. You may wish to only use the air filter at night. Most negative ion generators have an on/off switch for the ion control so you can use only the fan/filter system.

Negative Ion Generator Facts:

Approved by the U.S. FDA (Food & Drug Admin.) as an approved allergy treatment.
Ionization is mandatory in many European and Russian Hospitals.
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.

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