If you’ve ever gotten zapped while pulling fresh clothes out of the dryer, or had your hair stand up on end while pulling off a hat, you’ve encountered static electricity being released (a process known as “electrostatic discharge”). Neither of these situations is particularly painful or dangerous to the human body—partly because the voltage is so low. Sparks first become visible in darkness at 750 volts, and it requires approximately 3,500 volts for a person to physically feel a static shock.
In contrast, as little as 25 volts of static electricity can damage the type of sensitive electronic equipment found in data centers and server rooms, integrated circuit and semiconductor assembly plants, laboratories and other scientific, healthcare and manufacturing facilities. Even when personnel are unaware of the problem, they can transfer a potentially damaging static charge to anything with which they interact, including other people, electronic equipment, machinery, raw materials and finished goods.