Psychological Effects of Air Ions
The Sharav winds also induce psychological effects. This might be expected, if this weather system induces increased feelings of tension, behavioral dysfunction, and migraine headaches as well as depression and irritability in weather-sensitive people. For example, the Israeli researcher Rim compared the psychological test scores of two groups of subjects: those who tested on Sharav days people and those who tested on non-Sharav days people, in the same months. These individuals were candidates for either clerical or technological jobs. This study demonstrated that the Sharav winds caused an increase in neuroticism and extraversion, and a decrease in intelligence score, mechanical comprehension, and ability to follow instructions. The authors attributed these decrements in performance, in part, to the increased concentration of positive air ions found when Sharav winds are present.
Two years later, Rim published a follow-up study that involved psychological testing similar to that in the study above. These tests were administered to volunteers in a microclimate enriched with small negative ions that reverse the clinical symptoms associated with Sharav weather systems. Of these subjects, were tested on Sharav days and were tested on non-Sharav days. Rim observed that people with specific personality traits were affected differently by the Sharav weather front positive air ions and negative air ion conditions. Introverts, for example, showed a decrease in short-term memory performance. Also, those who scored high on both neurotic behavior and extraversion showed the greatest improvement of responses due to negative air ions. These studies suggest that a the Sharav winds can alter psychological performance, and b humans are affected differently, perhaps because of their personality type brain neurochemistry. Several other studies have shown, however, that air ionization had no effect on complex mental tasks.
Physiological Effects of Air Ions
It is believed that small air ions both and – enter the body through the respiratory tract. Both animal and human research studies have shown that excessive positive ionization of inhaled air reduced the motion of cilia in the windpipe and caused dry throats, headaches, and itchy or obstructed sinuses. Negative ionization resulted in none of these symptoms. Despite logical skepticism about the effects of air ions on physiological function, two intriguing studies provide biochemical evidence that a brain neurochemical is intimately involved.
These studies were prompted by the fact that the effects of serotonin smooth muscle contraction, constriction of blood vessels, increased respiratory rates were very similar to the effects attributed to positive ions. Investigators also hypothesized that negative ions would be able to counteract the effects of serotonin. In two separate experiments, drugs were used that have the opposite effects on the synthesis and removal of serotonin; reserpine depletes brain serotonin, whereas iproniazid acts to increase the supply of serotonin mimicking the theoretical action of positive air ions. With reserpine, tracheal tissue was resistant to positively ionized air. This supported the concept that the absence of serotonin was involved. When iproniazid was applied to tracheal tissue, the effects of positive air ions were duplicated without actually using positive ions and the influence of negative air ions was resisted. These findings illustrate that the brain neurotransmitter serotonin may be one part of the biological mechanism by which positive and negative air ions act in the body. These results also might explain how weather- sensitive subjects are affected.
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Strong, hot, ground-level winds generate enormous fields of static electricity and ions.
Several other experiments involving animals have shown that negative air ions exert a measurable anxiety-reducing effect on mice and rats exposed to stressors. These trials employed sophisticated techniques to measure the responses of the endocrine and nervous systems to stressful situations. The hypothalamus, adrenal glands, brain metabolism, behavior, activity, eating, and adaptations to stressors were observed.
Medical studies on humans strengthen these animal findings. You will recall that some individuals experience an irritation syndrome just before and during the Sharav winds. Physician Felix Sulman prescribed an anti-serotonin drug sandomigran for Sharav-sensitive patients inHe observed that of them lost all symptoms associated with serotonin excess, including migraine headaches, sleeplessness, irritability, and tension. Sulman and colleagues later demonstrated that Sharav- sensitive patients excreted larger amounts of serotonin in urine -units/h than nonsensitive patients -units/h.
This suggests that there is some unknown characteristic of these weather- sensitive individuals that alters their biochemical balance under the influence of these meteorological stressors.
Interestingly, even when weather systems are clear and calm, changes in air ion levels occur throughout the day. Figureillustrates this phenomenon in a major city on the East Coast of the United States. Evidently, positive and negative ion levels peak between : A.M. and : P.M. Theoretically, this may be due to automotive and industrial pollution, or to the photochemical influence of sunlight, similar to ozone formation see chapterIt is not clear from this study whether similar circadian changes in air ions occur in rural areas.