Negative Ion Products Are Great If You Want Radiation Poisoning

Photo by whereslugo on Unsplash

The claims are wild — even reputable websites like WebMD and Healthline are throwing around studies suggesting the health benefits of negative ions. But in reality, these claims are far more harmful than they are beneficial.

Some sources even claim that breathing in negative ions can increase your energy levels and relieve depression. Bear this in mind as you read further.

Let’s start with the claim itself: “negative ions are good for you.”

The claim is backed up by multiple small studies that seem to suggest negative ions reduce stress and depression, and increase cognitive performance and immune functions.

While these studies are widely disputed and are weak evidence at best, let’s continue under the assumption that they are right — that negative ions really do have those effects.

Great. After coming to this conclusion, it sounds like a great idea to increase our exposure to these negative ions.

Luckily for us, there is a myriad of products that claim to emit negative ions. Let’s go for something wearable so we can enjoy those benefits at all times.

So many! I don’t even know which one to pick.

Truthfully, this is a bit of a lottery, because if I actually buy one, I would either end up with an ordinary bracelet that doesn’t do anything, or a bracelet that is radioactive.

Much of the information I’m about to explain comes from Justin Atkin’s YouTube channel, TheThoughtEmporium, who did a fantastic job showing exactly how dangerous this stuff is. I highly recommend you watch this.

You see, negative ions are molecules that gain extra electrons — which gives them a net negative charge. This requires energy, which needs to come from somewhere.

How do you add a constant energy source to a bracelet?

Many of these products have thorium oxide in them, which is not only ironic because they emit positive ions in the form of alpha radiation, it is also dangerous.

The thorium oxide is added to these products as dust, and as the products get worn out, the dust escapes to the air where it can be breathed in by the wearer.

Remember the recommendation about breathing in negative ions? Well, the best you’re going to get with these products is breathing in radioactive dust.

And radioactive bracelets aren’t the only things people are buying for their supposedly negative ions.

There are also negative ion T-shirts, underwear, bedding, caps, and scarves. Anything you can imagine. These manufacturers are making it extremely easy to “enjoy the health benefits of negative ions 24 hours a day.”

In Atkin’s video, he shows that the radiation exposure you can get from wearing a single bracelet for a year is 49 millisieverts (the equivalent of 3 chest CT scans) per year (mSv/y). The threshold for cancer risk is at 100 mSv/y.

So while yes, it is under the threshold, it doesn’t mean it’s safe. Especially if the wearer also uses other products, like negative ion necklaces. If we assume someone uses a necklace and a bracelet, both exposing them to 49 mSv/y, and we factor in an extra 2mSv/y of background radiation that everyone is naturally exposed to, that’s enough to bring them into the cancer risk threshold.

That’s not to mention that the negative ion bedding and clothing products probably require more thorium oxide, making those products more radioactive.

So really, even if negative ions are good for you, these products are useless. At best, they do nothing; and at worst they increase your risk of cancer.

It’s not dangerous to handle these products for a short while since the radiation you’d get from minutes of exposure to them is minimal. In Atkin’s words, the real danger is when you use these products as intended.

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