Why Negative Ions and Ozone

 Why Negative Ions and Ozone as Air Purifiers

The main differences in the air between healthy outdoor environments and unhealthy or harmful outdoor environments are the levels of negative ions, ozone, and pollutants. Healthy environments have higher levels of negative ions, moderate levels of ozone, and low levels of particles and/or pollutants. Unfortunately, most indoor environments are more similar to unhealthy and hazardous outdoor environments. This includes negative ion, ozone, and pollutant levels.

Negative Ion and Ozone Levels in Healthy and Unhealthy Environments: As an example, in healthy outdoor environments such as in the mountains, or in a country meadow, the negative ion concentration is typically 2000 to 4000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. By contrast, the negative ion concentration in an unhealthy place, such as on congested L.A. freeways, is less than 100 negative ions per cubic cm. The negative ion concentration in most indoor environments is between 100 and 200 negative ions per cubic cm. In extremely healthy and invigorating environments, such as near a large waterfall, the negative ion level is around 1,000,000 per cubic cm. Effects of Negative Ions

The ozone level in healthy outdoor environments is typically between 0.02 ppm (parts per million) and 0.04 ppm, which is the ozone level produced by the  purifiers. In most unhealthy indoor environments, the ozone level is virtually zero. In some unhealthy indoor and outdoor environments, the ozone level may actually be well above 0.1 ppm, which is too high. However, this only happens when the hydrocarbon level (pollution from industrial smokestacks, vehicle emissions, etc.) rises to a very high concentration. It has been proven that ozone breaks down the hydrocarbon (a.k.a. VOC) molecules. When the pollution is high enough though, the nature cannot help but to overcompensate under this strain. Is Ozone Safe?

This is why indoor environments need a source of negative ions and ozone. In addition to being beneficial to your health when occurring at proper levels, they are highly effective at removing particles and contaminants from the air, which results in a much healthier environment by itself.

Particulate removal is critical since there are a variety of sources of indoor air pollution in the typical home. In fact, the EPA advises us that indoor air pollution is the nation's worst environmental health problem, even 2 to 10 times as bad as outdoor air pollution. In addition, most people spend well over 90% of their time inside, making clean indoor air even more important for our health.

Filters may remove some of the larger particles from the air (0.3 microns or larger), but it is more critical to remove the finer particles out of the air. The smaller the particle, the deeper it is taken into the lungs when inhaled. The deeper a particle travels into the lungs, the more damage it causes. Fortunately, negative ions and ozone can remove particles as small as 0.01 microns. This allows them to remove pollutants that air filters cannot, such as bacteria, chemicals, fumes, fine dust, viruses, etc.

Types of Pollutants / Particles Removed from Air
(Partial List)

Ozone Negative Ions

 

Chemicals
Algae
Exhaust Fumes
Bacteria
Carbon Monoxide
Mildew
Tetrachloride
Nicotine
Acrylic Acid

 

Germs
Ammonia
Cigarette Smoke
Mold/Mold Spores
Fungi
Fertilizer Chemicals
Oils
Resins
Carbolic Acid

 

Odors
Gases/Fumes
Viruses
Formaldehyde
Benzene
Propane
Ether Alcohol
Gangrene
Industrial Waste

 

Solid Particles
Smoke
Dust/Dust Mites
Dead Skin
Pollens
Insect Feces (Allergen)
Mold Spores
Animal/Pet Dander
Chemicals

Facts About Negative Ions

  • Approved by the U.S. FDA (Food & Drug Admin.) as an approved allergy treatment.

  • Ionization is mandatory in many European and Russian Hospitals.

  • 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.

How Negative Ions Purify the Air

Virtually all particles in the air have a positive charge, while negative ions have a negative charge. In which case, negative ions and particles magnetically attract to one another. When there is a high enough concentration of negative ions in the air, they will attract to floating particles in large numbers. This causes the particle to become too heavy to remain airborne. As a result, the particle will fall out of the air, preventing it from being inhaled into the respiratory tract where it can trigger breathing and health problems.

The ionized particle will then be collected by normal cleaning activities, such as vacuuming or dusting. If the particle happens to be kicked back up into the air again, it will be ionized, and quickly settled out of the air once again.

In nature, negative ions are generated by processes such as sunlight, lightening, waves from the ocean, and from waterfalls. "Concrete Jungles" minimize the natural production of negative ions by disrupting the delicate electrical balance between the atmosphere and the earth. (Effects of Negative Ions)

Other Negative Ion Benefits

Asthma, Allergies, and other Respiratory Problems and Illnesses. Many scientific studies have been conducted over the years (mostly in Europe and Russia) showing how exposure to high levels of negative ions drastically or significantly reduce asthma and allergy symptoms, as well as respiratory-related illness.

Migraine Headaches. Kreuger (1976) reported that in laboratory animals serotonin, an powerful neurohormone, could be affected by the polarity and concentration of air ions breathed. Serotonin can produce neurovascular, endocrinal, and metabolic effects throughout the body (Kreuger 1976) and plays an important role in mood and sleep patterns. Negative ions act to reduce serotonin levels in the respiratory system, blood and brain, whilst positive ions increased serotonin levels. Hawkins (1985) reports that his own work confirmed these effects. High concentrations of serotonin have been associated with migraine headache attacks. Thus an increase in negative ions would be expected to reduce migraine attacks. Reduced serotonin levels result in a mentally relaxed state and reduction in feelings of depression.

Depression. A study at Columbia University suggested that negative ion treatment is more effective than anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac and Zolof, and there are no side effects with negative ions.

Fatigue. The production of Serotonin (chemical produced inside the brain) also causes fatigue, and negative ions prevent the production of Serotonin inside the brain.

Sleep. A study in France found that negative ionizers helped people to sleep better, by preventing the production of the chemical Serotonin in the brain.

Mental Performance and Concentration. Several tests have shown people exposed to negative ion treatment perform much better in mentally-oriented activities than those who are not.

Physical Performance. Due to test results performed by Russian scientists, negative ionizers were always installed in the locker rooms and resting places for the Russian athletes.

Burns. Studies performed in one hospital found that burn patients were far more likely to recover more quickly and thoroughly.

How Ozone Purifies the Air

Ozone oxidizes airborne pollutants, then reverts back to oxygen,
transforming polluted air to pure and refreshed air.

Here is how the process works:

  • Oxygen molecules (O1 and O2) are converted to ozone (O3) by either a high-voltage electrical charge (such as from lightning), or by ultraviolet light (such as from the sun rays).

  • One oxygen atom (O1) splits off from the ozone molecule, and reacts with other particles when it comes within range of a particle and/or pollutant. Ozone is highly reactive, so it never fails to initiate this reaction with other particles.

  • As the 2nd most powerful oxidant in existence, the single oxygen atom proceeds to "oxidize" the particle it reacts with. This means it burns the particle, which changes its physical properties. As a result, the particle will no longer be toxic, and will no longer be able to reproduce if it is biological. In other words, the particle becomes completely harmless.

  • When the single oxygen (O1) molecule oxidizes the particle, it too is destroyed. This leaves behind the O2 it split away from, or pure and clean oxygen. Is Ozone Safe?

Effectiveness of Ozone at Low Levels

Russian scientists performed a study to see how effective ozone was at improving indoor air quality in schools. Respiratory-related illnesses were drastically improved after the ozone systems were installed. The ozone concentration produced by the systems were 0.015 ppm (parts per million).

In testing performed by two scientists by the name of Elford and Van den Ende, it was found that ozone effectively destroyed bacteria at 0.04 ppm.

Many publications have published studies showing the effectiveness of lower concentrations ozone (0.01 to 0.03 ppm) at removing odors and pollutants. Some of these include the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), U.S. Air Force technical publications, and Manufacturing Chemist.

Test Results

Disinfection of the pollutants below were measured in identical conditions within a containment chamber, with one exception. In one chamber, the pollutants were exposed to a relatively stable 0.05 parts per million of ozone concentration, and normal room air in the other chamber (close to 0 ppm). Pollutant count measurements were taken before, during, and after the 4 hour testing period. Each chamber began with an identical amount of the tested pollutants.

Test Pollutant Beginning Count No Ozone
(After 4 hrs.)
Ozone (0.05 ppm)
(After 4 hrs.)
Approx. Ratio*

Staphylococcus

7,250,000

6,320,000

940,000

7:1

Aspergillus

4,500

5,500

1,500

5:1

E. Coli

3,500,000

16,500

2,500

7:1

Salmonella

2,500,000

11,200

4,180

3:1

Candida

200,000

560,000

3

186,666:1

* Ratio of how much more pollutants remained in the "non-ozone" chamber than the "ozone" chamber after the 4-hour testing period.

Statements from Professional Studies on Ozone

ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning): "Ozone controls surface mold on packages and walls, and reduces scale development and decay. The presence of ozone . . . . significantly reduces the occurrence of mold." What is Mold?, About Mold, Mold Facts

Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES): "Ozone is one of the purest and most powerful oxidants and germicides known."

Professional Studies on Ozone Safety

The Refrigeration Service Engineers Society has reported that electric-arc welders exposed to ozone levels of 0.2 to 0.3 ppm (parts per million) for a decade showed no adverse effects.

Also, according to the 1961 Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology, "During the 80-year history of the large scale usage of ozone, there has never been a human death attributed to it." To this day, there has still never been a single human death or incident of harm attributed to ozone. 

This despite the fact that ozone was widely used in hospitals during the first half of the 20th century, and is still widely used in European hospitals. In addition, millions of ozone air purification systems are in use worldwide, both commercially and residentially.

By Contrast, well over a million people are hospitalized, and well over 100,000 are killed every year due to medication side effects, according to the FDA.

Ozone is completely safe and effective when occurring within FDA and OSHA standards of 0.05 ppm (parts per million). In healthy and clean outdoor environments, ozone occurs between 0.02 ppm and 0.05 ppm. Ozone has not been found to be harmful to the lungs until occurring at concentrations of 0.1 to 0.2 ppm. However, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to adjust most ozone air purifiers to produce anywhere close to this amount of ozone. Is Ozone Safe?

Self-Policing

In addition, the smell of ozone will become unpleasant and obnoxious well before reaching harmful levels, serving as a built-in and self-policing safety mechanism. If this happens, you know to make an adjustment (i.e. adjust setting of machine, increase air flow, place in more open/larger area).

However, at proper levels (0.02 ppm to 0.05 ppm), it will have a pleasant and clean smell to it, reminiscent of the smell outside after a lightening storm.

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