Thread: Urban Myths And Cell Phones
05-09-2007, 02:42 PM #1
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Urban Myths And Cell Phones
I extracted this from the DND Safety Digest and its been one of "hot debate" in here before...
Cell Phones – Risks and Rumour
Vera Pachner, Radio Frequency Safety Engineer, DND QETE 4-7-2
Articles and an urban legend that wireless mobile phones can cause explosions at gas stations have appeared in the media all over the world, including an article in the Economist (March 23rd, 2005). Because of this, many international technical experts and social scientists have evaluated risks associated with cell phone use.
Dr. A. Burgess, University of Kent, UK is a well-known researcher. He is interested in risk, and his focus has been on the issue of health anxieties surrounding radiation-producing technologies, especially mobile phones. He published several papers on investigations into the ongoing issue of restricting the usage of cellular phones at gas stations because of their alleged capacity to ignite fuel vapor. The restrictions are fairly old and vary from country to country. In the UK, the initial ban was not based on any scientific research. It was a precautionary response from those charged with responsibility for safety at filling stations in the UK.
As the popularity of cell phones grew, major cell phone manufacturers printed warnings in their owners’ manuals not to use them at gas stations because of the risk of fire. Again, there was no proof that a cell phone could spark an explosion. The printing of warnings effectively compounded the rumour or “urban legend” that a cell phone could trigger a gasoline fire.
British Petroleum’s fire safety officer Richard Coates believes that the warnings by cell phone manufacturers is the largest contributing factor to the idea that the cell phone might spark an explosion. The warning signs against cell phone use that exist at service stations were largely a response to cell phone manufacturers’ own warnings. It is not surprising that some in the oil industry reacted with similar caution when those who actually manufacture these devices apparently concluded there might be a problem. By the end of 1990’s it became obvious that it was not beneficial for manufacturers to play a role in further stigmatizing cell phones as potentially dangerous. The cell phone industry came up with a new internationally harmonized text, instructing users to obey whatever signage exists and turn off the device if instructed to do so.
Dr. A. Burgess studied all formal reports on gas station fires in great detail. He established the fact that there has not been a single confirmed incident where a cell phone has ignited gasoline vapors. There is now official acknowledgement of a lack of any evidence that a spark caused by a cell phone would ignite gasoline vapors.
Use of cellular phones at gas stations will not ignite a fire or cause an explosion.
The principle issue is therefore one of potential customer distraction when refueling and speaking on a cell phone at the same time. Cellular phones can be distracting when filling a vehicle with highly flammable gasoline. That is why some gas stations still have signs asking customers not to use these devices when refueling.
A substantiated gas station hazard relevant to the general public is fires caused by body static (Electrostatic Discharge). Numerous instances of this little known problem have resulted in static-initiated fires, and are the real culprit behind the incidents that have been blamed on cell phones.If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)
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05-09-2007, 06:04 PM #2
Mythbusters busted all these myths."Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."
05-09-2007, 07:49 PM #3
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At least we're safe knowing that while some teenager is talking on her cellphone at the pumps, she won't actually cause any harm until she gets in the car and drives off, still talking on the cellphone, and wrecks into an Exxon Tanker that just left the gas station. Which, would in turn, cause, an explosion.
Whew, relief for cell phone users at last."Yeah, but as I've always said, this country has A.D.D." - Denis Leary
05-09-2007, 07:53 PM #4
I always found the whole cell phone blowing up the gas station thing ironic. 3ft from the nozzle is the super hot exhaust system and engine block.Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.
05-10-2007, 01:18 AM #5Jason Knecht
Township Fire Dept., Inc.
Eau Claire, WI
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05-10-2007, 08:54 AM #6
I wonder what the number of incidents are in which the person fueling while talking on the cell phone forgets to hang up the pump, and they drive off with the nozzle firmly positioned in the tank filler. Then, there are all those who don't put the gas cap back on after fueling..
I had an occurance one time at a diesel pump. It was card activated, and after entering my access number, the pump immediately sprang to life. It seems the last person fueling had locked the handle on the nozzle in the open position, and cut the pump off. When the switch flipped, it started spraying diesel fuel all over my truck. With that lesson learned, I always check the control nozzle to make sure everything is off before turning on the pump. Diesel fuel is not the best aftershave.
edit: Note, most diesel fuel stations have one master pump, and one pony pump so that tanks on both sides of the truck can be fueled at one time. It was the master that was off and the pony that was locked on. When the switch was flipped on the master, the pony kicked on too..
Last edited by rhvfd1214; 05-10-2007 at 08:58 AM.
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