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Human body grounding a charged object

  1. Aug 28, 2011 #1
    In a very good book, Chabay and Sherwood explain that when an initially uncharged person touches a negatively charged metal object, free electrons from the metal neutralize some Na+ ions in the salty layer on the person's skin. The person then becomes negatively charged and the neutral Na atoms react with water to form NaOH and H.

    This sounds fine. However, what would happen if the same initially uncharged person were to touch a positively charged objet? Would Cl- ions give up electrons to the object and end up as hydrochloric acid after reacting with water? This doesn't sound right...

    Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2011 #2


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    Hrmm. I think this only happens if the amount of charge is high enough. I believe electrons can be transferred without ionizing atoms/molecules, but I'm not really sure. Maybe someone else that knows more could chime in on this?
  4. Aug 29, 2011 #3


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    That doesn't sound right to me. NaOH exists in solution as Na+ + OH-. So the net effect of this reaction, supposedly, is to split some H2O atoms? That makes no sense.

    Of course, if you add/remove some electrons, you do change a whole bunch of chemical potentials, so all kinds of things can happen if you change overall charge sufficiently. That one just sounds iffy.

    My chem is rusty, though. I could be way off.
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