Understanding Static Charges: The Benefits and Dangers
Static electricity is the accumulation of electrical charges on the surface of an object. It is created by contact with a different material and the exchange of electrons. A static electric charge can create a spark which can cause harm to both people and goods.
As humans, we experience static electricity every day. Most common examples include a loud cracking sound when stepping out of a car or a mild shock when touching a metal doorknob. However, static charges can also reach dangerous levels and cause harm to our environment and our electronics.
Static electricity can be beneficial in certain industries and environments. For example, paint shops use static electricity created by air movement to assist in the painting process. It is also used for processes such as powder coating and electrostatic precipitation.
Surface static charges can also be used to repel dust particles from surfaces, preventing them from entering small places such as toothpaste tubes.
Static charges can cause harm to humans, electronics and delicate objects. Static electricity sparks can cause:
- Damage to Static-Sensitive Electronic Components: Static electricity discharges can have a profound effect on sensitive electronics. These discharges can damage sensitive components, destroying the device and providing an opportunity for sparks to form.
- Physical Harm: Static electricity can cause physical harm to people. In extreme cases, static sparks can be large enough to cause burns, explode oxygen, and cause neurological damage.
- Fire Hazards: Static electricity can cause fires in highly flammable environments. Static electricity discharges can ignite flammable substances and combustible materials, leading to catastrophic outcomes.
To minimize the risk of static electricity, people should use anti-static equipment, wear anti-static clothing, and use grounding wires to prevent static charges from building up.