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[STEEL Talk] If There’s Iron in Our Body, Why Don’t We Stick To Magnets?


STEEL Talk presents to you interesting stories of Science, Technology, Energy, Environment, Life — and of course STEEL!

Magnets attract iron, and because of this, they are utilized in various forms. There are a lot of magnets that we can see in our daily lives as well — like the tiny magnets on souvenir magnets that stick on the fridge door, magnetic snaps that help items close tightly, and so on.

But if iron is in our body, why aren’t we attracted to magnets? Let see the reason in detail.

 l Iron — Essential for Our Bodies Too!

We can not live without oxygen, and it is the red blood cells that deliver this oxygen to cells all over the body. A molecule called hemoglobin in the red blood cells contains iron. Oxygen sticks to the iron here and moves around the body. So we can say iron is essential in our lives not just because of the benefits it provides, but because it carries oxygen around our body, thus making us stay alive.

Now that we know we have iron in our body, the next question might pop up — “Will magnets attract blood because of the iron in it?” Many scientists also had this question and have got the answer. Because if magnets do attract blood, we must be careful of the magnets around us!

Fortunately, the iron in our blood isn’t attracted to magnets. Iron is almost everywhere in our body but in tiny quantities. The amount of iron in an adult’s body put together is 3.5g. The iron contained in blood only is just 2g. This small amount is spread all over the body, so obviously, it isn’t greatly affected by the pull of magnets.

But this explanation isn’t perfect. Because in the case of super magnets, it could attract any magnetic substance no matter how small the amount is. So let’s find out a more accurate reason for this!


l What Keeps Our Body Safe From Magnets?

Hemoglobin molecules that contain iron tend to repel from the magnet when attached to oxygen. In contrast, oxygen-depleted hemoglobin molecules are attracted slightly by magnets.

A Youtube creator arranged an experiment regarding this explanation as well. Take a look at the real experiment! (Korean)

Hemoglobin in our blood is mostly attached to oxygen. Also, blood is composed mostly of ‘water,’ which tends to repel from magnets. So even if you put a strong magnet close to your body, you can see your body moving away rather than sticking to it. Isn’t it amazing?

You’ve probably seen an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) equipment in hospitals or medical dramas. An MRI is a device that lets you see inside the body using powerful magnetic fields. If blood is attracted to the magnet, the person inside the MRI would be in grave danger. However this never happens because the iron-containing blood doesn’t respond very much even to a powerful magnet. Also, blood circulates the body moving swiftly in the blood vessels, so the effect of the magnet is reduced even more! So don’t worry!

Was the answer satisfying? Just like the various steel products made by steelmakers, such as POSCO, make our daily lives more convenient and happier, it is important to remember that iron in our bodies plays an important role too! That’s all for today! See you next time! Bye~!

* This article was written with help from science communicator Jung-Wan Mok, and Youtube creator <Gwa Bboon Ssa>

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