OxyFile #138

Artificial Ionization of the Air

(also mentioned: air purification, filters, ozone, disinfection)

First of all, a properly designed ionizer subjects your body to
nothing *unnatural*, only the kind of air you'd find in a pine forest.

Second, I have nothing to sell you, nothing to gain but maybe your
thanks if you have benefited from this information.

Third, there is not too much of certainty that can be said about
the effects of ionization;  some studies seem to have shown
significant effects, but few scientists have followed up on it nor 
has there been much publicity.  It seems that there are some
aspects that have shown real value and merit serious study, and 
can be analysed at little expense with existing technology.

The *claimed* effects of negative ionization (of oxygen molecules, 
mainly):

-       improved exchange of O2 and CO2 in the lungs
        (important if lungs function poorly),

-       better metabolism, each negative ion said to permit the
        passage of ~75 neutral O2 molecules into a cell,
        (animals died after some days in atmosphere without neg. ions),

-       improved 'beating' of cilia in the respiratory system
        to expel particles,

-       neutralisation of harmful free-radicals in the blood stream

-       destruction or precipitation of bacteria, pollen and certain germs,

-       certain maladies & symptoms are provoked or aggravated by 
        positive ionization, reduced by negative ionization, such as
        asthma, cardio, arterio, hepa, rhuma, cancer, stress, digestion,

-       better healing of scars, less pain (by production of cortisol), 
        reduced recovery time after anaesthesia,

-       reduced stress by regulation of serotonin (without the
        side-effects of anxiolytics/benzodiazepines),


An ionizer is typically a ventilator with filters on the air intake
and little needles charged to about -4000 volts on the output end.
In France the price for a modest but acceptable model from Philips
is about $175.  More on the technical aspect follows later. 

The value of breathing the air from an ionizer depends very much on the 
individual and the milieu.  Note that some people benefit very much 
from Prozac (which works on the serotonin) while others in a seemingly 
identical condition feel nothing.  If you live in a pine forest, an ionizer 
would be of little value (unless you want to 'supercharge' on negative ions
for some kind of therapy).

Some people are very aware of the presence of ionization, others not,
and the sensation can change with the weather and personal mood.
You might try turning the ion generator on/off while keeping the
fan going to see if you can detect the difference, whether the
air seems 'fresher'.

Even if ionization had no physiological value, there is still the
advanced filtering unit and the precipitating effect of ionization 
which greatly reduce the air pollution.  With an active charcoal
filter, household smells are also removed.

The 'healthy' air has at least several hundred negative ions per
cubic centimeter.  It is still considered healthy if there is slightly
higher percentage of positive ions.  Conditions which reduce the
negative ions or increase the positive ions include:

-       too many people in a confined and unventilated room,

-       pollution: smoking, car fumes, fog,

-       electric appliances: TV screens, copiers, motors,

-       hot & dry winds: Santa Ana, Chinook, Foehn, Sharav, etc.,

-       the onset of storms, relieved when the rain comes,

-       synthetic interior fabrics.


The interior of an automobile is a particularly critical milieu,
considering that people sit for a long time in a confined space,
the container is a metallic cage, and one person has to keep
in a good state of alertness.

Ionization is easily confounded with ozone, oxygen & hydrogen
peroxide treatment, especially since they may present the same
condition to the target organ.  Ionization improves the exchange
of carbon dioxide and oxygen, so it means more oxidation of the
hemoglobin.  More can be said on this in a later article.


Technical discussion:

A good ionizer contains (typically) a three-stage filter.  The
first, a washable large-mesh, catches the dust & lint and other large 
particles before they can clog the non-renewable following stages.
The second may be an electrostatic filter of many fine threads,
which should among other things catch many varieties of germs.  
The third is an active-charcoal filter to absorb gases.

The electrostatic filter becomes quite dark in a few months, and 
normally you must exchange the assembly at a cost of about $15.
I got some bulk material instead as replacement.  A mask as
used in surgery might be put in front of this filter to extend
its life.  Some one of you might have suggestions for a good,
low-priced filter material.

I first became fascinated with ionization in my activities as 
physicist, work that often results in large sparks.  I noticed
how the air very quickly took on a fresh sensation, odors
disappeared.  I finally did an experiment, bringing out a wire
from the very high voltage circuit of a TV receiver (up to 
20,000 volts  -- don't try this without great caution!!),
attaching needles to the end of the wire.  From the points came
nice little corona discharges.  Placing a cigarette in the vicinity, 
the fumes swirled into the electric field and then deposited on
the surrounding metal cage.  Adding a fan caused the air of the
room to become quite fresh.

On further study, though, I began to worry that this might be 
producing free radicals of large carcinogenic molecules, so I
settled on a store-bought ionizer of lower voltage and needles
with points designed to give just enough voltage gradient to
spray out negative ions of light molecules like oxygen.  This 
did not have such a strong effect but was more reassuring.

A powerful ionizer (or ozone generator) still interests me for
disinfecting purposes.  Put your bedding, shoes, whatever in a
zip-up bag and make a closed-circuit circulation of ions or ozone.
Sick rooms & toilets could be closed off for regular treatment.
A very useful device would be a low-priced ionometer to measure
the amount and size of the various kinds of ions and particles in the 
air, both to gauge the 'healthiness' of the air and then the 
effectiveness of an ionizer.

Medical scientists are beginning to worry about 'pm10' particulates,
those below 10 microns (10 millionth of a meter) which pass
through the body's filter system.  Ionization might assure that
they are at least partly neutralized or precipitated.

Somebody's going to make big money from *membrane* technology,
filters that let through only the smaller molecules.  One use
is desalination, passing H2O while blocking salt.  Another use 
is in hospital bedding, letting the mattress & pillow covers 
breathe air and humidity while blocking viruses, etc.

Another money-maker will be instruments to measure various
substances in the blood stream, including oxygenation and
medication, as well as the nutritive value of vegetables &
fruit.  These are topics on which I am gathering info.

A compendium of information about ionization is found in a book
by Dr. Herve Robert: "Ionisation, Sante, Vitalite", in French, 1989.
He might be considered 'marginal', but the preface is by a leading 
French professor/clinician who decries the lack of interest by
the medical establishment in this subject.

The book cites studies by, eg. NASA on capsule climatization,
Dutch re. the attentiveness of children in school, the French 
transport institute on driver fatigue, Swiss on sick-leave and
food industry hygiene, Finns on hospital infections, others
on the growth of plants, French on aging,

Otherwise, I have noted that Matsushita (Panasonic, etc.) has
embarked on trials in Osaka and Mexico City on large-scale
pollution reduction by electronic means.

Perhaps someone among you would like to research what is available
in the English language?

There is much more that can be said on these topics, but I will
wait for some feedback from your part to provide inspiration 
to gather and collate more from this end.


Roger Wiesenbach    roger@amgot.org