Frequently Asked Questions
From time to time I have had complaints from end-users about static electricity sparks. Why do they occur and what can be done about them?
Static electricity sparks or shocks can be very startling to a person. The spark is painful because it is extremely hot. It actually creates a microscopic burn to the skin.
This phenomenon happens in very dry air (relative humidity less than 25%). Static electricity occurs when the soles of our shoes steal negative ions from the floor (insulator). We leave behind “electrified” positive footprints, and our bodies acquire an overall negative charge imbalance. After many footsteps – i.e., throughout a supermarket – our bodies attain a high level of electric charge and a very high voltage (10,000 – 40,000 volts)! The next time you touch someone or another object (especially a conductor like store shelving, a metal can or a light switch) you get shocked because the imbalanced charge (negative versus positive) gets shared between you and the object.
To prevent shocks, the negative/positive charge separation must be stopped. This can be done through:
1. Using leather soled shoes (thinner soles are better)
2. Raising the relative humidity in the building
3. Mopping floors with antistatic liquid
Mopping floors with antistatic solution has limitations. On hard surfaces, frequent applications are needed to provide optimal performance.
The use of conductive or electrostatic dissipative floor finish will not prevent all static electricity shocks since the finishes are humidity-dependent (most require relative humidity greater than 25% to work).
Therefore, raising the relative humidity in the environment is the best prevention against static electricity shocks. Raising the humidity can be done through Mother Nature (such as rain or a change of season) or through humidifiers.
Found In: Resilient Floor