|MadSci Network: General Biology|
There is still much debate in the scientific and medical field on whether or not negative ions are "good" for ones health. Studies involving the different health effects of both negative and positive ions are on-going with varied results. However, when looking at the basic interactions of negative and positive ions, the ions do affect cells and other molecules in different ways. First let us look at what "ions" are. Ions are molecules or atoms that are either missing or have extra electrons associated with them. Those that have extra electrons are the wonderful negative ions (negatively charged), and those missing electrons are positive ions (positively charged). Through basic chemistry and physics, all elements want to be neutral; therefore, the positive ions want to fill the holes where electrons should be and negative ions want to shed their extra electrons. The whole process and existence for ions is to become neutral - by either losing or gaining electrons. Now comes in how these ions interact with other things in order to exchange electrons. Negative ions attract or are attracted to positively charge things in order to donate the excess of electrons; while positive ions are attracted to negatively charged things in order to accept its electron excess. A very visible transfer of electrons from one charged body to another is lightening. Lightening is the result of electrons from negatively charge ions in the clouds "jumping" to a positively charged object on or near the ground. In addition, the flow of the massive number of electrons "jumping" to the ground strip away other molecules' or atoms' electrons creating positive ions. This "jumping" of electrons from one charged body to another creates a current; essentially electricity. However, when the receiving end is the human body, it is not a pleasant sensation. Current studies support the claim that negative ions aid in particle removal from the air. The negative ions attract many smaller particles in efforts to donate electrons. As the ions attract small particles (dust, pollen, pollution, viruses, bacteria, etc), the ions get heavier and heavier. Then finally the ions get so heavy they simply fall out of the air or become large enough to be collected on filters. Negative ions have also been credited for increasing the degradation rate of serotonin the body. The degradation of serotonin causes a sense of well-being. These are just two examples claiming negative ions are a benefit human health. On the other hand, positive ions may be considered a nuisance to the human body in that they want to attract electrons anyway they can. When interacting with the human body, the body does not necessarily want these loose electrons. Thus the positive ions become an irritant to the body and in some cases inhibit or interfere with biological functions. Some studies have concluded that people can become irritable when exposed to an excess of positive ions - because your body sees them as an irritant. And this may be the primary reason to explain why negative ions are perceived "better" for one health than positive ions. There are additional studies looking at the interactions and other health effects/benefits of negative ions. I was able to locate a few websites that may have additional information about the different effects and benefits of negative and positive ions. They are listed in no particular order. Some are commercial sites and I am not recommending their products but referring to their supporting information on how negative ions work. http://www.bright.net/~comtech/ http://www.sumeria.net/healt h/ions.html http://www.surroundair.com/ ion-ozone.htm http://www.hippocrates.c om.au/negative.html http://www.comtech- pcs.com/ions/whatareions.html Hope this will answer your question.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on General Biology.