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Negative ions in the natural environment

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Negative ions in the natural environment

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Negative ions are generally created by:
(1) Photoelectric effect by solar rays
(2) Atmospheric diffusion caused by UV rays
(3) Thunder/Lenard's effects
(4) Electron diffusion caused by alpha rays emitted from the inside of the earth
(5) Electron diffusion caused by beta rays emitted when the earth's crust moves
(6) Electron diffusion caused by gamma rays when atmospheric pressure falls
Water droplets are generated when water splashes down onto the water surface and rocks. A water droplet forms a two-layer structure whose inner/outer surface is charged negatively/positively when it is smashed.

Thus, the outer surface of newly created droplets are charged positively and the air, which touches them, is charged negatively. This is how negative ions are created by splashing water.

This theory referred to as the Leonard effect was reported by German physicist Dr. Phillip Leonard. For more information, you can refer to "The Leonard effect" (Japanese only).
The Lenard's effect caused by water from the shower stimulates negative ion generation.

More negative ions exist around a waterfall because:
1. Water is splashed more violently.
2. Water droplets are less likely to combine together in a wider area due to the lower humidity, which results in more negative ions. *
* An air ion has some tiny water droplets around its body which are floating in the air. The number of the droplets decreases when humidity rises as they combine together.
It is said that negative ions are actively generated at around 6-10AM as the air is cleaner during this hours. However, it depends on weather and other ambient conditions.
Most of harmful substances such as formaldehyde and volatile compounds which cause offensive odors are positively charged. Negative ions combine with them and fall onto the floor/ground to remove them from the air.
It is believed that negative ions are generated when trees absorb water through their roots and release it into the air from the pores on their leaves. Soil in woods also helps the negative ion generation as it is usually wet.
Negative ions neutralize positive ions which are ingredients of cigarette smoke.
Please refer to Q.02 Why do many negative ions exist around the basin of a waterfall?
It is not just due to the temperature. You may or may not feel refreshed when you stand near a waterfall because it depends on the person. However, clinical tests show that many patients, who have negative ion therapy, feel refreshed. Plenty of negative ions can actually be detected around a waterfall. Not all, but most of those who try negative ion therapy feel refreshed.
Cigarette smoke contains highly concentrated positive ions ranging about 2,000-30,000 (pcs/cc). These positive ions neutralize negative ions in the air and the negative ion count decreases, which can cause symptoms such as headache. Negative ions vanish due to human presence. It is reported that the amount of negative ions neutralized by one smoking person is equal to that of 100 non-smoking people.
Here are some ion counts we actually measured. Please note that ion counts are just for your reference because they change every second.
Unit: (pcs/cc)
LocationNegative ionPositive ionTemp.Humid.
Ion Trading office kitchen22018028C65%R.H.
Balcony of a 6th floor flat
(Tachikawa-city Tokyo)
Entrance of a press shop
(Tachikawa-city Tokyo)
Woods in a park
(Hino-city Tokyo)
Pond in a park
(Hino-city Tokyo)
River side
(Hino-city Tokyo)
Car exhaust
(Toyota Cresta)
(Fuchu-city Tokyo)
* Measured by a flat type ion counter
** Counted only small ions whose mobility is 0.8(cm2/Vs) or above.
*** Measured Date: 15:30-18:00 15th Jun 2000 (Fountain: 16:00 11th Jul 2000)
Negative ion generation depends on humidity and the negative ion count decreases when it is raining. Negative ions combine with clusters of tiny water droplets to exist in the air.

Thus, the number of negative ions increases as the number of clusters increases. The number of tiny water droplets decreases when humidity is high such as a rainy day because they combine with each other.
Solutions other than water do not always generate negative ions. e.g. Salt water generates positive ions when it is sprayed.

A water droplet forms an electric double layer * as shown on the left image.The inner/outer surface is charged negatively/positively, respectively. When it splits into some droplets, the newly created surface obtains positive electricity from air molecules in order to become positively charged, thus the air molecules are negatively charged. This is how the air is negatively ionized.

* What is an an electric double layer?
When two different phases such as a solid and a liquid come into contact each other, positive and negative charges appear on the boundary surface with a distance of the molecular level.
Radon is a gas that exists naturally in the air. It is produced during the decaying process of radium, which is radioactive. It releases radiation rays when it decays and the air is intensely ionized.
It is said this theory was reported in the US in the early 20th century when air pollution was not so serious. However, we are not sure if it has been scientifically proven.
Positive ions found in living space are generated by:
1. Car exhaust
2. Factory exhaust
3. Home appliances
According to Lenard's paper, the air tends to be charged positively by splashed salt water in contrast to fresh water. This is why many positive ions can be observed in seaside areas.
Some reports say that formaldehyde are reduced but we do not know how negative ions work on it. Some companies manufacture negative ion generators which remove formaldehyde.
The surrounding air is charged negatively when water droplets collide with each other or with a wetted solid. For more information, you can refer to "The Leonard effect" (Japanese only).
When humidity is high, electricity is released through water contained in the air. On the contrary, when humidity is low and there is little moisture in the air, electricity is more likely to stay where it was created to become static electricity. This is why static electricity increases in dry air.
Theoretically, negative ions can cancel out static electricity if they posses the same amount of electronic charge as negative ions and static electricity are charged negatively and positively, respectively in living space. Technically, it is not easy to completely neutralize and eliminate static electricity charged on the human body. This principle is utilized in the semiconductor industry for ESD (Electro-Static Discharge) protection where sensitive devices can be destroyed by static electricity.
Dissociated negative ions are included in the solution. However, "Negative ions for health" refer to air ions which are different from those found in solutions, so negative ion effects on the human body produced by air ions are not always applicable to those in solutions.

[Please note] This does not mean ions in solutions have no positive effect.
It is said negative ions purify polluted air. For your reference, CO2 contributes to negative ion generation.
Negative ions can stimulate growth and extend life spans of plants.
We have no idea if negative ions have an effect on computers. We have received a report that an audio system produces clearer sound in a negative ion environment.
For your reference: Audio (Users Tesimonials)
The particles are so small and negligible. You only need to clean your house as you normally do.
Plants generate very few negative ions at most. If there are massive plants, it is possible that you can enjoy negative ions in the area.

The potted plant Sansevieria trifasciata commonly called "Snake plant" has been featured on a TV program as it generates some negative ions but it will not be able to fill a room with the negative ions.
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Contents of: Negative Ion FAQ
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· Tourmaline Products
What is a negative ion? (13)
What is tourmaline? (7)
Tourmaline explorer (11)
Negative Ion FAQ (140)
Ideal amount of negative ions (1)
Actual negative and positive ion measurements featured in literature and media (1)
Learn more about negative ions (25)
How to choose the right negative ion generator (5)
How to choose the right negative ion products (9)
Misunderstanding about negative ions (10)
Theory of Air Ion (14)
Negative ion effects reported in medical literature (13)
Lenard effect (2)
Negative ion counter comparison chart (2)
Corporate customers (15)
Users Testimonials
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