Negative Ions

Positive and Negative Ions
Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes
Negative Ions and Ozone:
Myths vs. Fact
Alaska Science Forum: Negative ion generators 
Ions Can Do Strange Things To You
Project: Air - Advanced Research on Atmospheric Ions
Asthma and Ions
Aerobiological Engineering - Penn State University
How do plants remove chemical vapor from the air?
Negative Ions Create Positive Vibes
Why Are Negative Ions So Healthy
Treatment Of Seasonal Affective Disorder with a High-output Negative Ion Generator
The Effects of Air Quality on the Serotonin Irritation Syndrome
Negative Ions and Consciousness
Negative ions improve asthma and other respiratory conditions
Reduce and/or destroy bacteria, viruses and other microbe
Negative ions are needed in order to take in oxygen
Negative ions counteract the effects of smoking.
Negative ions help prevent respiratory-related illnesses
Negative ions help prevent migraine headaches
Negative ions are a natural anti-depressant
Negative Ions Enhance Mental Performance and Concentration.
Negative ions enhance physical performance.
Negative Ions help us to sleep better
Negative ions aid in the treatment of burn patients.


When certain kinds of winds begin to blow throughout the world, hospital admissions, suicides, and crime rates skyrocket. One country-Switzerland- even accepts the blowing of the "Foehn" during the commission of a crime as mitigating evidence in court.

These "notorious" desert and sea winds are also linked to minor illnesses and malaise epidemics. Victims' claims range from sleeplessness, irritability, tension, migraines, nausea, palpitations and hot flashes with sweating o shills to tremor, vertigo, swelling, breathing difficulty, and frequent intestinal movement. In addition, elderly persons are affected with depression, apathy, and fatigue..

What causes these "witches' winds," as they are often called, to differ from others? What do they posses or lack that make them a dread to the lands or oceans they blow across? Positive ions.

According to the experts, positive ions rob us of our good senses and dispositions, while their counterpart, negative ions, enhance them, stimulating everything from plant growth to the human sex drive.. ]

Ionizers - A New Generation

The air we breathe

The problem

The air we breathe is essential to our lives and our health. Breathing pure, clean air not only keeps us alive but also allows us to think more clearly, sleep more soundly and stay healthier.
Whether you live in the city or live in the country you can have problems with unclean and unhealthy air. Outdoor pollution can be more evident because of the car exhaust fumes, factory and industrial airborne waste products and aircraft exhaust. But according to the following facts indoor air can cause much more healthy problems as it is much more polluted.

Scientific facts about indoor air quality:

· The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), themselves declare that indoor air is anywhere 50 to 100 times more hazardous than outdoor air.

· The EPA also warns us that the indoor air quality is the United States' number one environmental health problem.

· Today's homes and buildings are built air-tight, and contain a long list of pollution sources. As a result, natural air-cleansing agents such as ozone and negative ions are kept out, while contaminants are kept in.

· According to the American College of Allergies, 50% of all illness is aggravated or caused by polluted indoor air.

· Most people spend well over 90% of their time indoors. In which case, indoor air is going to impact our health far more than outdoor air.

· According to Scientific America, a baby crawling on the floor inhales the equivalent of 4 cigarettes a day, as a result of the outgassing of carpets, molds, mildews, fungi, dust mites, etc.

· The EPA informs us that 6 out of 10 homes and buildings are "sick", meaning they are hazardous to your health to occupy as a result of airborne pollutants.

· The association of General Surgeon stresses that passive smoking causes thousands of deaths in non-smoking adults and damages the health of hundreds of thousands of young children.

Other Interesting Facts Related to Indoor Air Quality:

· Asthma cases have increased by more than 100% since 1976.
· About 1 in 9 children now have asthma.

· Death rates due to asthma have tripled, and quintupled in children ages 5 to 9, since 1976.

· Hospitalization rates and doctor visits are still continuing to increase dramatically.

Molds, mildew, bacteria, viruses, cigarette smoke, cooking smoke, chemical fumes, animal hair, dust, dust mites and odors can all be found in the air in our homes.

All of these air born pollutants can cause problems for our health. The following is a list of some common problems caused by airborne pollution.

· Allergies
· Asthma or difficult breathing
· Hay fever symptoms
· Chronic colds and/or headaches
· Weakness and chronic fatigue
· Fuzzy head and unclear thinking
· Coughing
· Sneezing
· Weakened immune system
· Symptoms of poisoning (in the case of chemicals)
· Headaches
· Depression
· Difficult sleeping (insomnia)


The solution


Generally speaking, negative ions increase the flow of oxygen to the brain; resulting in higher alertness, decreased drowsiness, and more mental energy," says Pierce J. Howard, PhD, author of The Owners Manual for the Brain: Everyday Applications from Mind Brain Research and director of research at the Center for Applied Cognitive Sciences in Charlotte, N.C

Certain places in nature seem almost magical. You feel wonderful when you're on a beach with crashing surf, next to a rushing waterfall, or high in the mountains. There is one simple reason. The air in these places is supercharged with negative ions. These naturally occurring atomic particles have been demonstrated to help produce a number of beneficial effects in human beings, including increased energy, enhanced ability to handle stress, keener awareness, greater dream recall and an overall sense of tranquillity.



Negative ions


Negative ions can have a positive effect on people.
But positive ions can have a negative effect on people.

An atom that has one of its normal orbiting electrons removed is called a positive ion. (Doesn't "positive" imply that something has been added?)
But an atom that has an extra electron added is called a negative ion. (Doesn't "negative" imply that something has been removed?)

So you see, it's really kind of backwards; the terms Negative and Positive are actually reversed, in this context. It's a misnomer that we can blame on Benjamin Franklin (so we hear) who lived in the 1700's. Back in his time, electrons (with a "negative" charge) and atoms were not understood correctly. But the word negative is still being used this way; to this day, an atom with an extra electron is still called a negative ion.

So, we're all still stuck with this 18th century terminology, and that's why they're called "negative ions".

"Remember that feeling you've experienced near a waterfall or high in the mountains? Those are two places that thousands of negative ions occur. They create an effect on human biochemistry."
" The normal Ion count in fresh country air is 2,000 to 4,000 negative Ions per cubic centimeter (about the size of a sugar cube). At Yosemite Falls, you'll experience over 100,000 negative Ions per cubic centimeter. On the other hand, the level is far below 100 per cubic centimeter on the Los Angeles freeways during rush hour."

Depression and mood- Negative ions also have been shown to help lift mood, alleviate depression and seasonal affective disorder (winter depression or SAD). There is even a patent by a prominent researcher and institution for the treatment of depression with negative ions.

The following detailed article about negative ions
has been reprinted from Reader's Digest.

Ions Can Do Strange Things To You

Researchers believe that through control of the electrical charges in the air we breathe, our moods, energy and health can be markedly improved.



One sweltering day in Philadelphia this summer a man sat before a small metal box resting atop a hospital file cabinet. It was plugged into an ordinary wall socket. A doctor flipped a switch. Inside the box a small fan whirred; the box hummed distantly, like a high-tension wire, and gave off a faint, sweetish odor. Soon the man felt alert, magical, refreshed, as though he had been taking deep gulps of sparkling October air. The doctor turned the machine off, switched on another that looked just like it. The air grew quickly stale. The man's head felt stuffy. His eyes smarted. His head began to ache. He felt vaguely depressed and tired.
With this simple experiment, the scientist, Dr. Igho H. Kornblueh, of the American institute of Medical Climatology, demonstrated the effect that atmospheric ions can have on human beings. The first machine generated negative ions; the second positive ions.
The air around us is filled with these electrically charged particles. They are generated in invisible billions by cosmic rays, radioactive elements in the soil, ultraviolet radiation, storms, waterfall, winds, the friction of blowing sand or dust. Every time we draw a breath they fill our lungs and are carried by the blood to our body cells. They appear to have a lot to do with such varied things as our moods, why cattle grow skittish before a storm, why rheumatic joints "tingle" when the barometer falls, and how ants know in advance that it's going to rain, in time to block their tunnels.


Are you often drowsy or easily fatigued? Do you have itchy eyes?
Do you suffer from a dry, scratchy throat? Do you suffer from jet lag?
Do you take an hour or more to unwind after work? Does air conditioning upset you?
Do you have blocked nostrils or raspy breathing? Does a wind change affect you?
Do you feel irritable and lethargic before a storm? Do you have drastic mood swings?
Do you sleep 7 or 8 hours, yet still wake up tired? Do you suffer bouts of dizziness?
Do you have dryness, burning or itching of the nose? Do you find it hard to concentrate?
Do you find the air in your workplace stuffy and stale?  
Personal Air Supply
Do you suffer from headaches or the feeling of a tight band around your head? Do you fall asleep in front of the TV?
Do you have a ticklish cough or need to clear your throat several times a day? Do you often become drowsy while driving?




Asthma Bronchitis
Difficulty Breathing

Falling barometric pressure and hot, dry, seasonal winds, such as the Alpine Fohn and the Rocky Mountain Chinook, for example, pack the air with an excess of positive ions. Not everyone is affected; healthy young people swiftly adapt to the change. But countless others are distressed. The aged come down with respiratory complaints, aching joints; asthma sufferers wheeze and gasp; children grow cranky and perverse; crime and suicide rates climb.

"A computer room will have roughly six times as many positive ions as negative ones at the end of the day even if the room was aired in the morning, unless it is aired frequently during the day.

On the other hand, a preponderance of negative ions spices the air with exhilarating freshness. We feel on top of the world. Dr. C. W. Hansell, research fellow at RCA Laboratories and an international authority on ionization, illustrates the effect with a story about his ten-year-old daughter. "We were outside, watching the approach of a thunderstorm. I knew that clouds of negative ions were filling the air. Suddenly my daughter began to dance across the grass, a radiant look in her face. She leaped up on a low boulder, threw her arms wide to the dark sky, and cried. 'Oh, I feel wonderful!'"

Negative ions "cure" nothing that we know of, at most afford relief only so long as one inhales them. Many doctors doubt their therapeutic effects. But there is a growing army of people who swear by them.

At the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate Hospital and at Northeastern and Frankford hospitals in Philadelphia, Dr. Kornblueh and his associates have administered negative-ion treatments to hundreds of patients suffering from hay fever or bronchial asthma. Of the total, 63 percent have experienced partial to total relief. "They come in sneezing, eyes watering, noses itching, worn out from lack of sleep, so miserable they can hardly walk," one doctor told me. "Fifteen minutes in front of the negative-ion machine and they feel so much better they don't want to leave."

It was RCA's Dr. Hansell who, in 1932, stumbled upon the behavioral effects of artificially generated ions. He notice a startling swing in the moods of a fellow RCA scientist who worked beside an electrostatic generator. Some days the scientist finished work alert and in bubbling good spirits. On other days he was rude, ill-tempered, depressed. Dr. Hansell investigated found that the scientist was happy when the generator was adjusted to produce negative ions, morose when it was producing positive ions. A few months later, reports of ionization research in Europe confirmed the strange experience.

A few years ago atmospheric ions became suddenly important to military, researchers in environmental medicine. How would they affect men locked in submarines? In space ships? What were the possibilities of ions therapy? Research programs multiplied, with fantastic results.

In Philadelphia Dr. Kornblueh studied brain-wave patterns and found evidence that negative ions tranquilized persons in severe pain. In one dramatic test he held a negative ionizer to the nose and mouth of a factory worker who had been rushed to Northeastern Hospital with second-degree steam burns on his back and legs. In minutes the pain was gone. Morphine, customarily administered in such cases, was never necessary.





Today all burn cases at Northeastern are immediately put in a windowless, ion conditioned room. In ten minutes, usually, the pain has gone. Patients are left in the room for 30 minutes. The treatment is repeated three times every 24 hours. In 85 percents of the cases no pain-deadening narcotics are needed. Says Northeastern's Dr. Robert McGowan, "Negative ions make burns dry out faster, heal faster and with less scarring. They also reduce the need for skin-grafting. They make the patient more optimistic. He sleeps better.
Encouraged by this success in burn therapy, Dr. Kornblueh, Dr. J. R. Minehart, Northeastern's chief surgeon, and his associate Dr. T. A. David boldly tried negative ions in relief of deep, postoperative pain. During an eight month test period they exposed 138 patients to negative ions on the first and second days after surgery. Dr. Kornblueh has just announced the results at a London congress of bioclimatologists. In 79 cases 57 percent of the total negative ions eliminated or drastically reduced pain. "At first," says Dr. Minehart, "I thought it was voodoo. Now I'm convinced that it's real and revolutionary."



Experiments by Dr. Albert P. Krueger and Dr. Richard F. Smith at the University of California have shown how ionization affects those sensitive to airborne allergens. Our bronchial tubes and trachea, or windpipe, are lined with tiny filaments called cilia. The cilia normally maintain a whip like motion of about 900 beats a minute. Together with mucus, they keep our air passages free of dust and pollen. Krueger and Smith exposed tracheal tissue to negative ions, found that the ciliary beat was speeded up 1200 a minute and that mucus flow was increased. Doses of positive ions produced the opposite effect: ciliary beat slowed to 600 a minute or less; the flow of mucus dropped.

In experiments that may prove important in cancer research. Drs. Krueger and Smith also discovered that cigarette smoke slows down the cilia and impairs their ability to clear foreign, and possibly carcinogenic (cancer-inducing), substances from the lungs. Positive ions, administered along with cigarette smoke, lowered the ciliary beat as before, but from three to ten time faster than in normal air. Negative ions however, counteracted the effects of the smoke. Observed Dr. Krueger, "The agent in cigarette smoke that slows down the ciliary beat is not known. Whatever it may be, its action is effectively neutralized by negative ions, which raise the ciliary beat as well in a heavy atmosphere of cigarette smoke as they do in fresh air."
How do ions trip off our moods? Most authorities agree that ions act on our capacity to absorb and utilize oxygen. Negative ions in the blood stream accelerate the delivery of oxygen to our cells and tissues, frequently giving us the same euphoric jolt that we get from a few whiffs of straight oxygen


Positive ions slow down the delivery of oxygen, producing symptoms markedly like those in anoxia, or oxygen starvation. Researchers also believe that negative ions may stimulate the reticuloendothelial system; a group of defense cells in our bodies which marshal our resistance to disease.

Dr. Krueger predicts that we shall some day regulate the ion level indoors much as we now regulate temperature and humidity. Ironically, today's air-conditioned buildings, trains and planes frequently become supercharged with harmful positive ions because the metal blowers, filters and ducts of air-conditioning systems strip the air of negative ions before it reaches its destination. Says RCA's Dr. Hansell, "This explains why so many people in air conditioned spots feel depressed and have an urge to throw open a window."

Air conditioner manufacturers are designing new systems that increase negative ionization. The American Broadcasting Co. will equip its new 30 story New York City headquarters with ion control. Two national concerns, Philco and Emerson Electric, already have ion control air conditioning systems on the market. RCA, Westinghouse, General Electric and Carrier Corp. have similar products under study or development.

A personal note from Guy Cramer, Ion Scientist; These ELF fields trigger serotonin a brain hormone now associated with cancer (see Project AIR). A negative ion generator can convert the excess serotonin (the antagonist for most of the problems) into a harmless chemical called 5HA ( 5-HIAA )



We still have much to learn about atmospheric ions . But researches believe that these magic bits of electricity, under artificial control, will soon be helping millions to healthier, happier, more productive lives.

by Robert O’Brian
Condensed from The Rotarian.


Article from Journal of Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine (August 1982 p. 822-823)

One group of subjects served as controls and was confirmed to the test chamber for a 6-hour period under air ion conditions typical of an energy- efficient building. The second group was similarly confined, but ion generators began operating two hours before occupancy and continued all six hours of confinement. Generators were masked for all indications of operation, and were also present under control conditions but not turned on. Data from both groups were collected under double-blind conditions.

Summary of Results:
" Subjective perceptions of psychological state, using individual 'normalcy' as standard, reflected significant differences between control and negative ion exposure groups. Prominent perceptions reported were reductions in irritability, depression, and tenseness, and increases in calmness and stimulation associated with ion exposure. For psychological state, negative ion exposure appeared associated with feeling better about self, less sensitive, and more responsive or innervated (energized)."

Authors: L.W. Buckalew and A. Rizzuto

Source: Air Force Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force base, Dayton Ohio






About air ions:

Almost all "+" natural ions come from radioactivity. About 40% of natural air ions come from radioactive minerals in the ground. Each time a radioactive atom decays near the air, it produces 50,000 - 500,000 air ion pairs. Another 40% comes from radon in the air (which produces about 250,000 ion pairs for each radon atom), and 20% comes from cosmic rays (high-energy protons from distant supernovas). Indoors, ions "live" on average about 30 seconds before touching a surface and shorting to ground. Outdoor ions usually "live" several minutes. Negative ions come from radioactivity and evaporating water. Also lightning, thunderstorms, and forest fires contribute "+" and "-" ions, but since these ions are not produced during fair weather, it is usually only radioactivity and evaporating water that produce ions outdoors. Normal fair-weather ion concentrations are 200 to 800 negative and 250 to 1500 positive ions per cubic centimeter. Indoor levels are usually lower. Several hours before a storm, + ion concentration will increase dramatically, sometimes exceeding 5000 ions/cm3 During a storm, - ions increase to several thousand while + ions decrease, often to below 500.

Because a large concentration of + ions can attract - ions, high concentrations of + and - ions are often found together. Typically, a high concentration (1000 or more) of both may be found in one area outdoors while low concentration (300 or less) is found typically one city block away. A cloud of pure + ions (no -) with a concentration of 1000 ions/cm3 would be very unstable and would fall apart if its diameter were more than about 30m (100'). For this reason, high concentrations of exclusively + (or exclusively -) ions tend to be compact, and don't extend more than about 30 m. While testing indoors, you may find high - in one area of a room and high + in another.

The life time of "fast" ions (these are the most common type) is determined by how long they last before they collide with a solid (or dust) which usually neutralizes their charge. Indoors electric fields are stronger than outdoors. Plastic surfaces charge to a typical potential of negative 1000 volts. This produces electric fields of 500-5000 volts per meter near the plastic surface. The electric field repels negative ions (air molecules with an extra 0- or 0H-. The mobility of fast - ions is about 1.2x104 m/s per V/m, so at 2000 V/m, - ions are repelled at a speed of 2000x 1.2x10~4 =.24m/s (meters per second). Positive ions (air molecules with an extra H+ or positive ammonia molecule) are attracted to the plastic by the same field. Their mobility is slightly lower (about 1.0 x 10-4 m/s per V/m) and they have a slightly slower speed of .2 m/s. When the + ions touch the plastic, they give up their + charge. This partially neutralizes the - charge on the plastic. Under typical conditions, complete neutralization of the -charge on the plastic would occur in a few weeks. However, dust blowing by will rub against the plastic and acquire a + charge. This dust carries the + charge away (ultimately to Earth ground). As a result, the plastic always retains a negative charge.

A good way to standardize (and lengthen) the lifetime of indoor ions is to put them in a large cardboard box. Lifetime then is about 50 sec, regardless of humidity, so if, for example, 4 pCi/L of radon is in the box, it will produce a continuous 1600 + ions/cm3 in the box.

You can produce negative ions directly by combing your hair with a plastic comb. If you then blow air past the comb, the air will have between 1000 and 10,000 - ions/cm3 immediately next to the comb. The number is lower in high humidity. Also, your breath contains about 20,000 to 50,000 - ions/cm3 from the evaporating water, but you must be grounded to exhale a concentration this high. If you are insulated from ground, you will become more positively charged with each exhalation (by about 5 volts) because your breath is removing negative charge. Eventually, you will become sufficiently positive (after exhaling about 20 times), that the negative ions will immediately return to you. This is the same effect that occurs in building cooling systems that use an evaporating water tower. If not properly grounded, the water pump and vents will become very positive. (If the inside vents are isolated from the evaporating water via a heat exchanger, the vents may become very positive and produce a large number of + ions. This can be corrected simply by grounding the vent).

Both + and - ions come from combustion (flame, wood burning, cigarette smoke, and car exhaust) and from very hot surfaces (hot enough to glow).

Indoors, near ground level (basement), most "+" ions come from radon, and a reading of 1000 "+" ions/cm3 means about 4 pCi/L of radon; the maximum allowable amount in the U.S. (This number of ions is directly proportional to radon concentration multiplied by average ion lifetime:

strong electric fields indoors will reduce the ion lifetime.) Because it is unlikely that a level so high (1000, or 1.00 on the counter) can come from anything else (other than flame, smoke, or a hot electric heating element), it is likely that 1000 ions/cm3 in a basement means about 4 pCi/L of radon are present (or 2000 ions/cm3 = 8 pCi/L, etc.). Note that if radon is the source of the ions, then the concentration of ions will be approximately equal throughout the basement. If it is instead 1000 near a hot water heater but only 100 ions/cm3 elsewhere, it is not radon. A higher concentration of + ions near cracks in the concrete foundation or near corners indicate the radon is coming in there.

If the average "+" ion count is low (for example, less than 100), then there is essentially no radon present. It is not possible to "hide" the ions that radon produces. "No ions" means "no radon". Occasionally, a small piece of dust will discharge on the plate. Dust is usually "-", so the plate will read typically -1000 (-1.00) or so, even if the POLARITY switch is on "+". This will return to normal in about 3 seconds. Holding the counter near any alpha particle source (Uranium, Thorium, etc.) will produce very high ion readings, especially "+". This Ion Counter can therefore directly be used in place of a Geiger Counter. Turn the switch to STANDBY and polarity to "+". Remove the wind guard and hold the top of the Ion Counter close to the test source of possible radioactivity. If .1 microCurie of 5 to 8 MeV alpha (Uranium, Thorium, Radium) is entering the top hole, the display will read 250,000 ions/cm3 ("250" on the 1999 scale). These alpha particles can only travel through about 5 cm (2") of air, so hold the top of the counter very near the suspected source. The display is proportional to the radioactivity present. Neutrons can also be detected by putting a thin layer of plastic (a hydrogen source) over the rectangular slot. This will convert hi-energy neutrons to protons, which can be detected because protons create ion pairs. Sensitivity is a few orders of magnitude less than sensitivity to alpha particles (as described above).


1. Start with the upper right switch on STANDBY and the knob at OFF. Then turn the knob to 19.99. This will start a 50 second warm-up. During this warm-up, all 3 decimal points will be black. After warm-up, only one decimal point will remain. Then push the right switch down to RE-ZERO and hold there at least 5 seconds. The display should now read between 0.02 (positive) and -0.02 (negative) and it should be stable. That is, it should stay in that range at least 5 seconds. If the display is not stable, RE-ZERO again. Then check that the wind is not blowing. If air is being forced through the Ion Counter, shield the front with your hand and the back with your body and wait until the display becomes stable. Then RE-ZERO again. Alternatively, in windy conditions, you can balance the left switch (POLARITY) in the center position (not + or-) and wait for the display to become stable. Then RE-ZERO. This method will produce a more accurate "zero" in turbulent conditions, but you will also have to wait longer before taking measurements, because you will need to switch away from this neutral position to either + or -, which is an additional step.

2. To take a measurement, make sure POLARITY is set either + or - (A change in the POLARITY setting will cause a short delay. See 4.), and hold the Ion Counter away from you (at arm's length) or set it down. This is because the synthetic fibers in clothing often repel ions. Turn the switch to MEASURE, which will turn on the fan and make all 3 decimal points visible for about 20 seconds. After 20 seconds, only the center decimal point will remain. The ion counter works best if connected to ground or if it is momentarily touched to a grounded object before measurement starts. To do this, touch your finger to the center screw in a wall switch plate or wall outlet while holding the counter, or touch metal plumbing or the ground itself. If the ion counter has not been grounded, then it may carry a significant static charge. This charge will either repel or attract ions, which will distort the readings. Note that all of the black surface of the ion counter (including the 4 rubber feet) is electrically conductive.

3. Now the Ion Counter is ready to take measurements and will display in units of 1000 ionslcm3, so multiply the display by 1000. For example, -0.28 = 280 negative ions/cm3. The air is sampled at the slot in the top of the Ion Counter. Hold the Ion Counter in one place at least 10 seconds on MEASURE until the reading is stable to get an accurate reading. However, to determine a trend (whether the number of ions is greater or less as you move to a new area), simply watch the display for increase or decrease as you move the counter through various areas. An ion "hot spot" or a depleted area will be apparent almost immediately, even if you don't wait 10 seconds at that spot.

4. You can switch the POLARITY switch at any time. The 3 decimal points will go black for approximately 30 seconds and the fan will turn off, then back on by itself. You do not need to RE-ZERO. Note that when the fan turns itself on, the 3 decimal points will remain for an additional 20 seconds, as in step 2.

5. Most readings can be done in the most sensitive range (19.99). If the scale indicates over range (1... or -1...), switch to 199.9 or 1999. You must RE-ZERO after you switch range (this will be obvious). To RE-ZERO, first switch to STANDBY and wait about 20 seconds for the display to become stable.

6. RE-ZERO every 5 minutes (or more often if the temperature changes rapidly). To do this, switch to STANDBY and wait about 20 seconds until the display stops changing. If a breeze is blowing, shield the Ion Counter during this 20 seconds, or switch POLARITY to neutral as in 1. above. Then once the display becomes stable (that is, it doesn't change by more than + .01 in 5 seconds) hold the switch at RE-ZERO at least 3 seconds.

7. When about 15 minutes of battery life remains, "LO BAT" indicator will come on at the left side of the liquid crystal display, most likely when the switch is on MEASURE (fan "on"). This "LO BAT" (and the colon symbol, which will also show) will fade out after about one minute, but as long as the batteries are low, it will display again every time the right switch is changed from STANDBY to MEASURE, or back. The Counter requires two 9-Volt batteries. After heavy continuous use, LO BAT may come on prematurely. Then just leave OFF a few hours so the batteries can rest. This will prolong the battery life.
To replace batteries, unscrew the back (4 screws).


A. For fastest, most accurate readings, measure an entire area on a single polarity, then reverse the polarity and re-measure the entire area. (This is as opposed to measuring "+" then immediately switching to "-" at each point in a room).

B. If ion concentration is less than 100 ("0.10") a longer STANDBY settling time should be used before RE-ZERO. In this case, watch the display until it stops drifting (about 30 seconds), and then RE-ZERO. Also, the display will take longer to reach final value when on MEASURE if the ion concentration is very low.

C. If you are measuring while walking, hold the Ion Counter vertical and at arm's length. This will make the moving air perpendicular to the air flow through the Ion Counter. In windy conditions, hold it (or set it down) so it is vertical or at least perpendicular to the wind direction. If changing conditions require that it is sometimes parallel to the wind direction, have the air flow in to the top (as opposed to into the bottom, or fan side). This procedure will assure the most accurate readings. When air is rapidly flowing into the top, the Ion Counter will read slightly high, but if air is rapidly flowing into the fan side, it may read very low.

D. While walking (especially on a carpet), or if you are exposed to the output of an ionizer, you are acquiring charge. This may attract or repel ions. The black outer casing of the Ion Counter is conductive and will be at the same voltage as you are while you are holding it. It too may attract or repel ions. When walking on a carpet, best accuracy is obtained if you do not wear shoes (or if the shoes are not plastic). Shoes which do not cause you to be "shocked" when you touch a grounded object are acceptable. Alternatively, while measuring, touch a grounded object frequently (see 2.) to avoid too much buildup of charge. Also, you can set the Ion Counter (on its back or standing) on a glass tray or on a sheet of glass (plastic will not work well because it acquires a charge). Hold the glass (not the Ion Counter) while walking and touch the Ion Counter to ground just before starting measurements.

E. If the Ion Counter is at the same temperature as the surroundings, the "ZERO" will be very stable. To reach temperature equilibrium, leave the Ion Counter OFF at least 30 minutes in the environment that will be measured. If outside, minimize its exposure to direct sunlight (which will make it hotter than the environment).

F. MEASURE requires about five times the battery power that STANDBY requires because MEASURE turns on the fan, so keep on STANDBY when not taking measurements. Also, the fan is inhibited from running during warm-up and polarity change, even when the switch is on MEASURE. When turning OFF, the right switch can be either in MEASURE or STANDBY.

G. To take the most accurate readings, make sure first that the display reads near zero and remains near zero in STANDBY. If blowing air or wind is moving through the ion counter while on standby, the sensor will collect ions, thus producing a non-zero signal. In that case, if you push down the switch to RE-ZERO, the new "zero" will not be accurate. This is why, in instruction 1., you should shield the ion counter when it's windy (or better yet, switch POLARITY to center position) to obtain an accurate "zero".

H. Hold the counter at arm's length away from you if you are wearing synthetic fiber clothing. This type of clothing becomes charged and upsets the ion count. Also, the outside of the case is coated with conductive paint. For most accurate readings, you should touch your hand to a grounded object before switching to MEASURE. This will "ground" the ion counter, so that it will not repel ions. (If the outer case is charged "+" or "-" it will either repel or absorb ions, so that either way, the counter will not be accurate). Also, any strongly charged object will reduce the apparent ion count if near the counter. In typical electric fields near synthetic fabric, negative ions are repelled at a speed of around 3 to 30 cm/sec (about 1-10 inches/sec). Positive ions are similarly attracted to the fabric.

I. Do not use solvents to clean the outside of the ion counter. It may remove the special conductive paint. Use only water.

J. The wind guard (black "handle" on top) is conductive plastic. It is also an electrostatic shield, but it can be removed to clean the metal plates inside. The plates only need cleaning if a piece of dust or lint makes a bridge between the center plate and the inside of the plate enclosure as shown.

K. Normally, when you reverse the POLARITY switch while on STANDBY, the display should settle back down to near "zero' after 30 seconds. If a dust bridge is present however, the display will not settle near zero within 30 seconds after you reverse the polarity switch. Instead, it will settle on +/- .10 or higher. For example, if the display reads, "-0.01" on STANDBY, with the polarity switch at "-", but after switching to "+" (and then waiting 30 seconds on STANDBY), it reads "0.15", this means that a piece of lint or other material (at least 5 mm long) is forming a conductive path or bridge. To clean, snap out the wind guard and blow air into the slot, or clear the space inside with a strip of paper at least 10 cm (4") long to dislodge any material that is forming a bridge in the gap. The counter will also work without the wind guard in place, but the reading will be too high if wind is blowing toward the top, and too low if wind is blowing in the opposite direction. Also, without the wind guard (which is also a conductive electrostatic shield), the counter could read too high or too low while being moved toward or away from a highly charged object. However, even if the wind guard is not in place, the counter will read correctly after being held motionless about 20 seconds, even if near a charged object.

L. When switching to MEASURE, the display may go slightly negative, even when POLARITY is on or vice-versa. Then it will recover. Within 20 seconds, this transient will settle and the counter will read the correct ion count, and will continue to be correct even as you move the counter through the area you're testing. However, if you see a sudden increase or decrease in the ion count, hold the counter still for at least 10 seconds for a correct new reading. This will allow you to find areas with high (or unusually low) ion concentration. Ion concentration may change significantly depending on the time of the day and position (such as height above the floor) inside a room.

M. The counter has an ion polarity selectivity of approximately 20. This means, for example, that if there is a very high positive ion concentration, the display may read positive even when switched to negative. With this selectivity, 1000 positive ions and no negative ions per cm3 will lead to a reading of "1000" when POLARITY is on "+", and positive 50 (not negative) if set on "-". If the display shows that one polarity of ions is more than five times as numerous as the other, a more accurate reading will result if you subtract 1/20 of the high number from the low. In the case above, 50 minus 1/20 of 1000 = "zero" negative ions.

N. When the LO BAT display shows (when the batteries become weak, it will first appear when on MEASURE), it means you have approximately 15 minutes of MEASURE time left before the batteries fail. (When they fail, the readings become unstable). Replace with 2 standard 9 Volt batteries ( alkalines will have about 3 times the life of regular batteries). NiCad rechargeables work, but use the 8.4 Volt kind not 7.2 Volts. The colon symbol will also display during low battery operation.

O. Ions are produced by high-energy events, such as an open flame or a very hot object (hot enough to glow). Hot objects usually emit equal numbers of "+" and "-'~ ions. In addition, high DC voltage (over 1000 Volts), especially when connected to pointed metal edges or needles, will produce ions of the same polarity as the voltage source. This is the basis of home ionizers. Evaporating water will produce "-" ions in the air and as a consequence leave "+" charges behind in the water that hasn't yet evaporated. If the excess "+" charges left behind are not conducted back to ground, the water will become "+" enough that "-" ion production will cease. For example, a fountain that has a motor that plugs into the wall will continuously produce "-"ions (until the water runs out) but a battery operated fountain will stop producing "-' ions after a few minutes if the fountain is well insulated from ground. The same is true of a battery-powered air ionizer. In general, for every 3x10 13 water molecule that evaporates, one water molecule carries an excess "-" charge.

P. You can set the polarity on "neutral" (neither "+" nor "-") by balancing the POLARITY center position. Then the sign (+ or -) of the display and its magnitude will tell you which type of ion predominates in the air and its approximate concentration (although the actual reading will only be about 1/10 the true sum of the +/- ion concentrations). When switching back to "+" or "-" afterward, allow about 30 seconds for the display to settle.

Q. It is possible that a small piece of lint or string can interfere with the motion of the fan. Always check that the fan comes on when it is supposed to, and if not, push it with your finger, or blow on it to start. The fan is very low-force and cannot hurt your finger. Check for and remove any material that may interfere with the fan motion. The fan should operate whenever the counter is on and the right switch is on MEASURE. The only two exceptions are that the fan will not operate during the first 50 seconds after the unit is turned on, or during the first 30 seconds after the POLARITY switch is used.


The Air Ion Counter pulls air (or any other gas with ions present) through a parallel plate assembly. Outer two plates are held at polarization potential ("+" or "-"). Center is the linear detector plate. Air gap is 4mm and polarization field is 1000 V/m.

Air flow: 200 cm3/sec (linear speed: 40 cm/sec)

Ion collection efficiency: 65%

Input resistance: 5 X 1010 Ohms

Dynamic range: 10 ions/cm3 (corresponds to 10 microVolts at detector plate) to 2 million ions/cm3 (corresponds to 2 Volts at detector plate)

Settling time: approximately 10 seconds

Noise level (10 seconds averaged): 10 ions/cm3

Accuracy: +/- 25% for fast ions (mobility greater than 8 x 15-5 m/s per V/m - these are the most numerous ions. The Ion Counter is less sensitive to "slow" ions such as charged pieces of dust).

Batteries: 2x 9V standard transistor radio or alkaline type.

Battery life: heavy duty 10 hours on STANDBY, or 2 hours on MEASURE. Alkaline is 30 hours on STANDBY, or 6 hours on MEASURE. LO BAT indicator comes on at 7.5 Volts (for each battery, or total 15 Volts). Indicates 10 to 30 minutes of MEASURE time remain.

Battery drain: 7 mA on STANDBY, 30 mA on MEASURE. Fails at 7 V/battery. Ion Selectivity (crosstalk): 20x

Sensitivity with POLARITY switch in center position (neither "+" or "-") : 1/10 of normal, but adds together "+" and "-"ions. (Example: 600 "+" and 200 "-" will read 1/10 of 600 minus 200, or 40 ions/cm3).

Warranty: 1 year

Made in USA.