Computer and ionization of air
Evidence seems to be mounting that ion concentrations in the air do affect how people feel. Further, there is evidence that trend toward using computerized equipment may be creating a special problem.
Outdoor air contains about a thousand positive and negative charges (ions) within each cubic centimeter. Cosmic rays coming into the earth from the sun and elsewhere break apart air molecules and thereby create much of the ionization that exists in the air. Since more cosmic rays come in at the high latitudes, the high-latitude air normally has a higher proportion of ionized air molecules or molecular clusters. However, in cities and in confined spaces such as offices were computer are used, processes take place to reduce the number of ions. One important process is attachment of charge-carrying molecular clusters to pollution particles in the air. When that happens both the ions and the pollution particles tend to be swept out of the air by the electric field that exists naturally near the earth's surface.
The loss of ion concentration is thought to be harmful because it does seem that high ion concentrations do make people feel better--just why, doesn't seem to be clearly understood. High ion concentrations also apparently inhibit bacterial growth and perhaps foster plant growth. The good effects seem to be attributed to high concentrations of negative ions rather than positive ones; generally, the concentration of both types go together, except in small volumes of air perhaps only a few feet across.
In a room the quantity of ions is sharply lowered, and with an artificial microclimate in general are absent. The ions are present " by air vitamins ", which we meet naturally. On a nature, where we feel, how fresh air " (sea, mountains, wood etc.) is spoken, air contains from 500 to 3000 of ions both polarities in one cubic centimeter. The medical scientific works have proved conclusive advantages of favorable influence of the charged ions:
Improvement of a psychological and physical condition
Increase resistivity to diseases
Decrease amount of bacteries in a room
Cleaning of air from the weighed microparticles
Easing of effect caused by a static electricity
The electric field caused by the positive static charge that appears on a CRT in normal operation sweeps the nearby air of negative charges, thereby depleting the negative-ion concentration in the immediate vicinity. Apparently when the ion concentration is lowered by this or any other means--air conditioning does it too--workers complain of headaches, lethargy, dizziness and nausea.
Under the electrostatic field influence dust and charged particles accumulate on a face, hands, provoking to an allergy, skin dryness and withering, and various eczema sometimes.
One experiment performed in England on 54 individuals at a computer site seems rather convincing. Negative-ion generators were installed, but, unknown to the persons being tested, the generators were not turned on for four weeks. During that period the negative-ion concentration was about 550 per cubic cm. A secret switching on the generators during the next eight weeks of the test raised the ion concentration to 3,500 per cubic cm, several times that found in normal outside air. After the experimenters turned on the ion generators, they found that the tested persons had fewer headaches and other complaints than before. Only five percent then said they had headaches, whereas 20 percent of the workers complained of headaches before the ion generators were turned on. The number reporting dizziness and nausea dropped by more than half, down to less than one percent.
Other English tests indicate that the more complex the task a person tries, the more the individual is affected by negative-ion levels. Also females are more responsive than males to negative-ion depletion or enrichment.