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Mobile phone hazards in gas stations

A person in a certain petrol pump in Dimapur uses a mobile phone at the gas station oblivious of the hazards. (NP)
Published on 13 Jun. 2009 12:10 AM IST
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Mobile phone manufacturers say there is risk in using mobile phones in gas stations and other chemical factories. Many mobile phone makers print cautions in their user handbooks that warn against mobile phones in “gas stations, fuel storage sites and chemical factories.” Electromagnetic waves generated from the cell phones will make friction with the gaseous state of petrol and this can create fire and explosion. It is known that mobile phones are an explosive risk at gas stations. Switch off your mobile phone while filling your car. This is the latest advice for mobile phone users and gas station attendants alike. “There have been several explosions in Southeast Asia and Europe and we hope similar tragedies can be avoided,” said David Tung from Chinese Petroleum Corp main engineering division. According to a report released by Shell Chemicals, a driver in Indonesia suffered burns and his car was severely damaged when petrol vapor exploded after being ignited by static electricity from the mobile phone he was using. Apparently, the driver had been talking on the phone as a gas station attendant filled his car with the petrol. When the driver bent down close to the petrol tank to check whether it was full, the vapor exploded. The threat mobile phones pose to gas stations and their users is primarily the result of their ability to produce sparks that can be generated by the high-powered battery inside the phone, which is itself, a possible cause of fire. But the electromagnetic waves emitted by the phone are more than sufficient to create considerable static electricity that heats the surrounding air and if the flammable vapor is concentrated enough, causes an explosion. But other electronic devices installed in the gas stations are safe. “All the electronic devices in gas stations are protected with explosive containment devices, while cellular phones are not,” Tung explained. But the danger is still ignored by many users who continue to talk on their cellular phones while filling up at gas stations. “Asking them to turn off the phone is the only thing we can do now – but not all the users like to: some of them even get mad,” one attendant at a gas station complained. In fact, if danger is to be avoided, all transmitting devices - not just mobile phones – should be switched off near gas stations and locations housing flammable substances. Mobile phones should also be switched off near sensitive electronic equipment, in places such as hospitals and airports for public safety reasons. (With inputs from internet)

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