THE EFFECTS OF AIR
ON THE SEROTONIN IRRITATION SYNDROME*
by Charles Wallach, Ph.D.
The most frequent cause of the clinical entity known as Serotonin Irritation Syndrome (SIS) was recently discovered to be poor air quality. Although this relationship has been intuitively recognized by many air-sensitive individuals, it is only within the past few years that medical and scientific evidence has solidly established the rationale of cause and effect, and air physicists have developed appropriate technologies for eliminating localized indoor pollution problems and restoring a healthful electrical balance to the atmosphere of confined living and work places.
The Serotonin Irritation Syndrome is defined as a significant disturbance of normal nervous system activity and/or the malfunction of various metabolic processes which is characterized by abnormally high levels of serotonin (5-Hydroxytrlptamine or 5-HT, a highly active neurochemical) in the human bloodstream1,2.
The direct effects of poor air quality in causing sudden excessive release of serotonin into the bloodstream were first discovered by Krueger3,4, and subsequently verified by many other scientific investigators5,6,7,8.
It has also been found that a number of other biochemical systems are also affected adversely (e.g. catecholamines and other amines, prostaglandins, thyroxines, etc.)6, but since the change in serotonin levels is the easiest and fastest to measure, the variety of individual reactions to and symptoms of poor air quality (which include headache, asthma attacks, slow thinking or even fainting spells due to reduction of blood circulation in the brain, heightened sensitivity to pain, moodiness and emotional irritability) are generally lumped together under the clinical term of Serotonin Irritation Syndrome.
Whatever form it may take, this SIS phenomenon is triggered by an excessive number of positive electrical charges in the environment, whether stationary (static) or carried by minute gas molecules or particles (positive ions).
Unfortunately, this excess of positive charges is characteristic of many industrial and working environment, and even of poorly ventilated rooms in homes, schools and public institutions9. However, the immediate effects of SIS are usually so small that they are not noticed at first exposure; but, like X-ray radiation, their effects can be insidiously cumulative and may not become apparent until weeks or months of continuing regular exposure. Unlike radiation, however, these cumulative effects are completely and quickly reversible when the environmental factors causing them have been properly corrected10,11.
These environmental factors, which have recently come under close study by physicians, physicists and public health authorities in many countries, are now understood in greater detail, and fall into the following categories:
STATIC POSITIVE CHARGES: The quality of freshness in outside air is largely due to the fact that the balance of positive and negative charges (ions) is about equal, so there is little or no electrical effect on the membranes of the respiratory system and consequently no disturbance of the body's normal biochemistry. In nearly every indoor environment, however, over a period of time, the walls, ceiling and floor surfaces acquire astronomical numbers of small positive electrical charges due to the friction of ambient air currents.
Since these surfaces are rarely made of electrically conductive materials, there are no hard (material) paths for electron flow to neutralize these positive charges; therefore these constantly-forming positive charges tend to continuously deplete the airspace of its normal complement of negative ions, leaving an excess of airborne positive ions which trigger SIS symptoms. In most indoor environment, these many positive static charges can only be neutralized by a continuous flow of free negative charges (electrons) which are attracted to positive charges through the air. This electron flow can be provided by the continuous through circulation of fresh outside air (which is seldom practical), or by electronically generating the necessary negative charges and propagating them throughout the closed environment.
MOBILE POSITIVE CHARGES: Nearly all of the airborne particles (e.g. dust, bacteria, chemical pollutants, virus and fungus spores, and the particles of moisture in which they are frequently trapped) that affect human health are also positively charged. Usually, these are repelled from settling out on positively charged interior surfaces and remain well-mixed with air due to Brownian motion, unless their charges are neutralized by negative ions to the point where gravity becomes the dominant force and they settle out as visible dust on horizontal surfaces.
The attraction of such mobile, positively charged particles for negative ions tends to further deplete the airspace of its negative charges, and exacerbates the conditions that trigger SIS symptoms. In heavily polluted environments, where the airborne concentrations of positively charged gas molecules and/or dust and germ particles is high, cumulative SIS effects become particularly severe.
This condition is traditionally treated by massive air-exchange systems employing high-power exhaust fans, large ventilation ducts, and elaborate filtration systems. However, in most cases such air pollution can be sharply reduced or eliminated by electronic generation of sufficient negative charges to neutralize the positive charges causing the pollutants to remain in the air -- with the result that they are quickly precipitated to the floor by gravity.
COMBUSTION IONS: Any form of combustion generates positive ions. All gas molecules and smoke particles resulting from combustion are positively charged. This is why people become sleepy, dull-witted or irritable in an inadequately ventilated room with an open fire -- or hazy with tobacco smoke. It is not generally realized that human life processes involve the combustion (oxydation) of fuel (nutrients), and that people take in negative charges and give off positive ones. This is why, in crowded rooms without adequate ventilation, people often have headaches1,2, become sleepy, dull-witted or irritablet1,3 in the "heavy" air -- typical examples of the SIS problem.
This condition can also be handled by massive, energy-costly ventilation systems, or by the electronic generation of negative charges in the environment.
It is evident that a variety of common and widespread physical and/or mental symptoms (which are characterized as the Serotonin Irritation Syndrome in the medical literature) have been seen to develop in a large fraction of the population frequently and repeatedly subjected to poor air conditions in which positive electrical charges predominate.
It has also been shown that these symptoms disappear when the environment is either adequately ventilated with fresh air, or equipped with an appropriate electron generation system.
In addition to the medically proven benefits to human health in closed environments, it has also been abundantly demonstrated that the use of properly designed and installed electron generation devices can produce significant energy economies and perform efficiently and effectively as air cleaners and deodorizers.
*Copyright 1986 by International