What is a negative ion generator?
It is a machine that makes negative ions.
OK, let's start with the basics:
What is a negative ion?
A negative ion is a molecule with a charge. The smallest parts of matter are called atoms. Atoms are made up of electrons, protons, and neutrons. Electrons have a negative charge, protons have a positive charge, and neutrons have no charge. A negative ion is a molecule with extra electrons. Hence, a negative charge.
Enough science stuff. Let's see how this affects you.
Proponents of negative ion generators make two claims about the benefits of negative ions.
Clean the Air
The first claim is that they help clean the air. Pollen, dust, mold spores, dander, and other allergens are floating in the air. The charged particles cause these allergens to stick to each other forming clumps. When the clumps become heavy enough they fall to the floor to be vacuumed up.
The second claim is that they help to improve people's moods and relieve depression. Fresh air has 2000 - 4000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. The air inside a room only contains 40 - 100.
Several different kinds of air purifiers use a negative ion generator. You may hear them called ionizers or electrostatic air cleaners. These both charge the air in order to clean the air. These are usually included inside an air purifier.
An ionizer is used to charge the particles in the air before they pass through a media filter. This causes more particle to be trapped in the filter.
An electrostatic air cleaner uses wires to charge the air. It then blows the charged air across metal plates. The particles in the air then stick to the metal plates.
Negative ion generators are not air purifiers in the traditional sense. There is no fan pulling air into the machine and forcing it through a filter. These machine just release negative ions into the air. They cause particles in the air to stick together and fall to the floor. Or they cause particles to stick to the walls and ceilings.
We think there are a couple of problems with these machines.
They can produce ozone. Ozone is a harmful gas that can cause lung problems. It can make existing problems, like asthma, worse. The FDA requires medical devices to emit no more than 50 parts per billion of ozone.
We do not recommend any air cleaning device that produces ozone. We feel the possible risks outweigh the benefits. Check before you buy any air cleaning device to make sure it doesn't produce ozone.
In our opinion the stand alone machines don't do a good job cleaning the air. They really do work. The charged particles stick to each other and to the ceiling, floors, and walls. If you vacuum and wash your walls regularly then you will be alright.
How many of you wash your walls everyday?
All the particles are out of the air and stuck to the ceiling, walls, and floors. What happens when someone walks on the floors or touches the walls?
That's right! The particles are sent back into the air.
We think a negative ion generator may help you feel better. In our opinion it does not do a good job of filtering particles out of the air. We think that you should not waste money buying one of these.
However, using a negative ion generator as part of an air purifier is a great idea. Several companies offer air purifiers that combine these generators with regular media filters. These are highly effective and do a great job cleaning the air. We recommend these air purifiers as long as they do not produce ozone.