Have you ever noticed how the atmosphere during a thunderstorm becomes charged with electrostatic energy? After the clouds pass, the air seems more fresh and clear.
It’s not just your imagination. Science tells us that when lightning ripples through the air, it actually changes the atoms around it. These atomic changes can affect human health for better or for worse.
Lightning happens when a strong electric field builds up inside a cloud and causes the air around it to break down, as it were. If the electric field builds up enough energy, it separates the surrounding air into positive ions and electrons.
Such air is called ionized.
Electrical currents seek to neutralize the charge separation and flow across the divide:
“A lightning stroke is a brief but large current of negative charge that travels from cloud to ground along a ‘wire’ of air molecules that have been ionized or ripped apart,” according to Ron Hipschman.
Those literally spaced-out electrons want to come home to mama nucleus (composed of positively-charged protons and uncharged neutrons) and race down the gap created electrostatically by the clouds, effectively short-circuiting the clouds and the ground.
The result is a bolt of lightning, usually followed by a clap of thunder. Ionized air is also termed plasma – so now you know how a “Plasma Warp Drive” on a starship operates. Pretty cool, huh?
Positive ions from the clouds flow electrically to ground, which always has a negative charge. (This is why electrical outlets and lightning rods have “ground wires” to carry the current into the negatively-charge earth where it becomes neutralized – harmless.)
Ionization doesn’t change the number of atomic particles – the process neither creates or destroys negatively-charged electrons or positively-charged atomic nuclei (ions). The electrostatic energy merely widens the gap between the original atom and its orbiting electrons.
Why do we care about ions? Because they are all around us and they impact our health. (And they never sleep.) You see, our bodies carry a negative electrical charge so positive ions neutralize (cancel out) our good vibrations, so to speak.
Because our bodies are negatively charged, the way ions affect us is inverse (I call it “bass-ackwards”) so the rule isn’t hard to remember:
- Positive ions => negative effect on the human body
- Negative ions => positive effect on the human body
This explains the popularity of negative ion generators to “cleanse and purify” the air in an enclosed room. This isn’t woo-woo science – they really work to reduce the number of positive ions in the air.
This is important because, as IonLoop tells us:
“Most forms of pollution, toxic chemicals, pollen, mold, pet dander, and other harmful chemicals in the air all carry a positive electrical charge, making them positive ions.”
Positive ion poisoning is a real medical condition that prevails in highly industrial, urban, and polluted environments. Many people report the ill effects of being bathed in and bombarded by positive ions on a non-stop basis.
The bad news is that most people today are exposed to positive ion pollution not only from air pollution but from electronic devices (televisions, phones, and computers), fluorescent lighting, and toxic carpeting, upholstery, and paint products.
Some signs that you are overdosing on positive ions include:
- Stressed out for no reason
- Higher inflammation levels
- Mood swings
- Chronic (persistent) pain
- Allergies get worse
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for a thunderstorm to cleanse the air of excess positive ions. Thick forests, waterfall, and beaches are all outdoor places that are super-charged to neutralize all your positive ions.
Dr. Michael Terman at Columbia University in New York explained:
“The action of the pounding surf creates negative air ions and we also see it immediately after spring thunderstorms when people report lightened moods.”
Inside the body, negative ions are thought to raise levels of serotonin (in charge of our emotions) which reduces depression, eases stress, and gives us more get-up-and-go during the daytime.
Perhaps this is why forests, mountains, and shorelines are popular vacation destinations? We really do “rest and recuperate” – thanks to high levels of nature’s negative ions.
If you don’t want to wait for your next vacation, consider getting a negative room ionizer (or several to put throughout your home or office) as a necessary and well-deserved health investment.
Don’t have the cash for a negative ion generator? You could always “charge” it. (Ouch! That pun-ishment was uncalled for and I apologize.)