You’ve likely heard that we can live weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without oxygen—unless, of course, your brain is cold. In Argentina, when a baby born three months prematurely was pronounced dead by two doctors, her tiny coffin was placed in a morgue refrigerator. That night, with mother’s insistence, her father pried open the box of death. The baby was alive! Cold had reduced the need for oxygen and saved her life. Air without life-giving oxygen is like a tire without air—flat. Air is a gaseous ocean for life. No air, no life.
Fresh Air Improves Cognitive Abilities
Our brain structure and mood improve when we spend time outdoors. Brain scans show that the time spent outdoors by the participants was positively related to gray matter (neurons, dendrites, and unmyelinated axons) in the right dorsolateral-prefrontal cortex, which is the superior (dorsal) and lateral part of the frontal lobes in the cerebral cortex.1 The superior and lateral part of the frontal lobes are involved in the planning and regulation of actions as well as what is referred to as cognitive control. This study controlled for confounding factors–exercise, sunshine, fluid intake, and free time. Please note: many psychiatric disorders are known to be associated with a reduction in gray matter in the prefrontal area of the brain.
Smog, Pollution, & Diseases
Unlike the air in the Garden of Eden at creation, much of the world’s air is now dirty. The Chinese, for example, plume the sky with over 100 tons of vaporous mercury every year. The results? Recent immigrants from China show toxic levels of mercury in their blood. The mercury poisons waterways, then the fish, then the people. The cheap soft coal containing mercury has other side effects too. Its sulfur becomes sulfuric acid harming the air for hundreds of miles. Polluted cities, factories, and millions of engines all belch poisons into our environment. Sickness, weakness, and death result. In fact, a one pack-a-day smoker in downtown London gets as much lung cancer as a two-packer in the country. Health scientists have shown that smog increases bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, emphysema, and cancer, even in non-smokers! Another poison in big-city air is PM-5 (particulate matter, 5 microns or smaller). This microscopic dirt can sink to the bottom of your lungs and, over time, change your lungs from pink to problematic!
Indeed, “Air pollution is considered as the major environmental risk factor in the incidence and progression of some diseases such as asthma, lung cancer, ventricular hypertrophy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, psychological complications, autism, retinopathy, fetal growth, and low birth weight.”2 Chronic exposure to pollutants results in vascular inflammation leading to atherosclerosis. Acute exposure causes changes in coagulation and platelet activation. Increase in pollution has been linked to increased hospital admissions for congestive heart failure and ischemic heart disease.3
Is Air Pollution in America a Real Problem?
150 million (more than half) people in the United States live with and breathe polluted air placing their health and lives at risk. 4 Air pollution, caused by unhealthy particles in the air, come from wildfires, wood-burning stoves, coal-fired power plants, diesel engines, and other sources. Inhaling ozone can cause shortness of breath, trigger coughing and asthma attacks and may shorten life. Warmer temperatures driven by climate change make ozone more likely to form and harder to clean up.
Fresh Air Is Different!
American and Russian scientists have cooperated to publish an explanation of what fresh air is and how it is kept that way thousands of miles out in space. What did these scientists find? More than ordinary oxygen is necessary. They reported, “When designing an artificial atmosphere for spacecraft cabins, it is necessary also to keep in mind the atmospheric ion (aerion) content. The cleaner the air, the more aerions will be contained in it. Ions, of course, are tiny electrified particles of matter. If they are of the right number and kind, and are balanced, they add freshness and vitality to the air. Then people breathing in the clean, fresh, life-giving air enjoy health and vitality that cannot be obtained in stale, vitiated air.
Now for the evidence. Entire books are available on atmospheric electricity. The number of these newly appreciated ions in air varies tremendously. When we step out of our cars in the tree covered mountains on a clear day, how strangely delicious and exhilarating the air is! This quickened sense of well-being is not just imagination. There may be two or three million air ions in each breath of this excellent air, and this may be five to ten times more than in the recycled second-hand air of big buildings that are often too modern for windows!
Benefits of Electrified Air:
Cleaner Lungs, Cleaner Blood
More evidence. Friendly air ions increase the rate and quality of growth in plants and animals. In proper concentration they improve the cleansing action of the little cilia, microscopic hair-like processes that line the trachea, or windpipe, in human beings and many animals. By waving like grass in a field they continually sweep out dirt. Air ions help the cilia beat faster and thus clean out the lungs better and more rapidly.
Fresh air with its proper amount of these ions can even change the blood, according to some scientists who have given this “electrified” air to animals. In a series of tests the blood vessels of a “donor” animal were joined to the blood vessels of a “recipient” animal so that both animals shared the same blood. The blood cells of both animals were “electrified,” which improved their function. Apparently “electrifying the blood” is not just literature.
Fresh air is energizing. Properly ionized air also improves the functions of cytochrome oxidase, an enzyme that helps make energy inside cells. Air ions also help kill germs that are floating in the air.
By electrifying one component after another normally found in air, Dr. Krueger showed in his laboratory at Berkeley, California, that the component doing the most good was electrified oxygen–oxygen with a negative-electric charge on it. The prestigious Handbook of Physiology, Volume 2, dealing with respiration, says, “The biological effects ascribed to negative air ions are actually due to negatively ionized oxygen…”
Helpful in Relaxation
“Electrified air” can improve brain waves. People who breathe excellent air with plenty of ions in it show changes in their brain waves–they tend to be relaxed and mildly tranquilized. No wonder that when laboratory animals are given a choice they choose the ionized air. Excellent pure air is not an esthetic luxury; it is a physiologic necessity.
Help in Learning
In a carefully monitored laboratory experiment in Florida, Drs. Jordan and Lakeland discovered something about ionized air and old rats. They tested the ability of these old rats to learn in a complex swimming maze with fourteen choices. While breathing air with a full complement of ions, these rats learned about twice as fast and made only about one-third as many mistakes as other old rats that were breathing ordinary laboratory air! They didn’t linger in blind alleys. Some of them swam in the whole maze in forty to forty-five seconds comparing well with even younger animals. Other scientists at Battelle Institute in Columbus, Ohio, have confirmed these findings. This shows clearly that properly ionized air helps old animals learn better and perform faster.
Hot Disease-Producing Winds!
In the Middle East there are strange storms called “sharav” that can lash out of the deserts and bring trouble. Initially there is a shift to many more positive ions than normal. Then, in 24-48 hours, come hot dry winds from the desert. Sometimes as many as 30% of people sampled are affected. They complained of migraine headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, eye problems, congestion of the respiratory tract, and irritability. Chemists have discovered and confirmed that a powerful hormone called serotonin is involved. This, along with too many positive ions such as carbon dioxide with a positive charge on it, can duplicate most of the symptoms. Breakdown products of excess serotonin show up in urine of these persons. Breathing healthful negative air ions reduces this serotonin problem.
By direct measurement and observation, it has been shown that excess positive ions can do the following:
- Reduce the normal cleansing action of the cilia in the air passages.
- Produce abnormal narrowing of air passageways.
- Exaggerate susceptibility of damage to the air passages.
- Produce spasm of blood vessels in respiratory areas.
- Increase the rate of respiration.
Negative ions tended to reduce or eliminate these effects.
What Makes Electrified Air?
- Living green trees. Negative ions, unhampered, would leave the earth’s surface permanently. Instead, they are micropackaged with cooling moisture, flavored by the fragrance of cedar, pine, or fir, and dropped down by gravity where we can enjoy original electrified aromatherapy. It is delightfully designed!
- Serious ocean waves or high-shear water in motion.
- Sea plants can also perk up sea breezes.
- Radiation from outer space and isotopes, even K40 from rocks near tree roots. There is 10 times more ionized air outside than indoors.
Green Environments Are Superior
Some man-made machines to ionize air often pollute it with harmful substances like ozone or even nitrogen oxide. Better save your money for getting closer to green, growing trees and the quietness of the country where good air is born, where nature blooms, and the body thrives.
In contrast, even short bouts of exercise in green environments improve both self-esteem and mood.5 Children who grow up with greener surroundings have up to 55 percent less risk of developing various mental disorders later in life. Another study found that individuals who took a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination (repetitive thought focused on negative emotions). They also showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment.6
Fresh Air Is More Than Ions!
Excellent air is a splendidly balanced “ocean” of environmentally significant gases, all in the right form and concentration. It is almost twenty-one percent clean oxygen without irritating amounts of ozone and seventy-eight percent of simple nitrogen. It is free of the disease causing amounts of nitrogen oxides as present in smog. Good quality air also has traces of useful gases like carbon dioxide but no dangerous carbon monoxide. Traces of noble or formerly called inert gases are also in air. Water vapor in moderate amounts blesses both plants and man with a gentle touch of moisture. But all too often, powerful chemicals and even sulfuric acid float ominously over polluted air basins.
Healthful air is free of disease-producing germs like viruses and bacteria, molds and spores. There are numerous invisible seeds of death that can ride around and around in recycled “air conditioned” environments, to say nothing of damp, dark, dirty places. Indeed, air is more that just ions. Nature’s atmospheric electronics certainly add verve.
Smoking, burning of fossil fuels, wood stoves, third hand smoke in furniture, mold, radon, allergens, pesticides, gases, solvents, and poor ventilation contribute to indoor pollution. Carpets act like traps for indoor pollutants, easily absorbing mold spores, particulates from smoke, allergens, and other harmful substances. Research has found that even some toxic gases can settle into carpets. Cleaning products, candles, air fresheners, and fragrances may emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause issues such as eye, nose, or throat irritation.7
Eliminate all the pollutants that you can. Vacuum daily. Use a HEPA air filter in the bed room or the room you spend the most time in. HEPA air filters improve the air quality of both lung and blood vessel health.8 Change or wash air filters frequently. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning filters (HVAC filters) purify the air that enters and exits the various units located throughout your home.
Don’t let frugality rob you of health. Watch out for closed windows in modern, sealed rooms. Some air conditioners just recycle stale “dead” air. We shall need good fresh air to be at our best and to be most productive and happy.
Remember, the finest air comes from the finest of nature, not from the noisy machinery in big smog-filled cities already devitalized by much tobacco smoke, smog, engine exhaust, industrial pollution, and the private little poisoning coming from too many people breathing second or even third-hand air.
After all, excellent pure air is not an esthetic luxury, it is a physiologic necessity. Abundant health and buoyant happiness are not accidents; they are achievements. Excellent living requires deep breathing of excellent air.
- Calvin, M. and O.G. Gazenko, eds. Foundation of Space Biology and Medicine. Vol. II, Book 1, Ecological and Physiological Basis of Space Biology and Medicine. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, D.C., 1975, p. 69-70.
- Calvin, M. and O.G. Gazenko, eds. Foundation of Space Biology and Medicine. Vol. III, Book 1, Ecological and Physiological Basis of Space Biology and Medicine. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, D.C., 1975, p. 102.
- Dufree, R.A. and R.H. Koontz. Behavioral Effects of Ionized Air on Rats. Psychophysiology 1:347-359, 1965.
- Jordan, J. and B. Sokoloff. Air Ionization, Age, and Maze Learning of Rats. J. Gerontol. 14:344-48, 1959
- Kataka, S. Effects of Air Ions on Microorganisms and other Biological Materials. CRC Critical Reviews in Microbiology. 6:109-149, 1978.
- Krueger, A.P. Air Ions and Physiological Function. J. Gen Physiol. 45:233-241, 1962.
- Krueger, A.P. and R.F. Smith. The Effects of Air Ions on the Living Mammalian Trachea. J. Gen Physiol. 42: 69-82, 1958.
- Miles, S. and D.E. Mackay. Underwater Medicine. J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1976, p. 268-271.
- Tal, E., J. Pfeifer, et al. Effect of Air Ionization of Blood Serotonin in vitro. Experientia 32:326-327, 1976.
- Silverman, D., and I.H. Kornbleuh. Effect of Artificial Ionization of the Air on the Electroencephalogram. Amer. J. Phys. Med. 36:352-357, 1957.
- Tromp, S.W. Weather, Climate, and Man. Ch. 16 in Handbook of Physiology, Section IV, Adaptation to the Environment, American Physiological Society, Washington, D.C., 1964, p. 286.
- Vasiliev, L.L. The Physiological Mechanisms of Aeroions. Amer. J. Phys. Med. 39: 124-181, 1960.
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Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.
- Max Planck Institute for Human Development. “Spending time outdoors has positive effect on our brains.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2021. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/07/210715103025.htm>.
- Ghorani-Azam, Adel et al. “Effects of air pollution on human health and practical measures for prevention in Iran.” Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences vol. 21 65. 1 Sep. 2016, doi:10.4103/1735-1995.189646
- Anderson JO, Clearing the air: a review of the effects of particulate matter air pollution on human health. J Med Toxicol. 2012 Jun;8(2):166-75. doi: 10.1007/s13181-011-0203-1. PMID: 22194192
- American Lung Association. “Nearly half of US breathing unhealthy air; record-breaking air pollution in nine cities.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200421090554.htm>.
- Kristine Engemann, Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2019; 201807504 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1807504116
- Bratman GN. Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation. June 29, 2015; https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1510459112
- Vijayan, Vannan Kandi et al. “Enhancing indoor air quality -The air filter advantage.” Lung India : official organ of Indian Chest Society vol. 32,5 (2015): 473-9.