Let’s travel back a decade or so when “forward emails” were popular. We all received them; from the one that warns that if you don’t forward the email to at least 10 friends in the next 60 seconds some horrible person is going to knock on your door and kill you, to the less threatening but equally terrifying one about the man who used his cell phone while pumping gas and everything exploded. Don’t you just miss those emails? Well, today I am here to debunk this last piece of gem: is it really dangerous to use a cell phone while pumping gas?
Short answer: NO!
History: The whole debacle started around 1999-2002 with an email claiming to be from Shell Oil that warned readers about the dangers of using a cell phone while at a gas station. The email recounted a few cases of men bursting into flames because they picked up their mobile phone when pumping gas. Want to know something interesting? No media news outlet ever reported of these incidents. Want to know something even more interesting? Shell Oil released a statement denying their involvement in such email. Interesting.
So how did this misconception spread? Well, besides the fact that we all love a good urban legend, people would rather be safe than make the evening news so gas stations did their part to place signs and perpetuated the myth. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), and The American Petroleum Institute have all stated that there is absolutely no evidence that mobile phones cause explosions or accidents at gas stations. Even after initial reports place blame on cell phone use for fires at gas stations, subsequent investigations always conclude that the initial reports were erroneous. In fact, even the masters of myth-debunking, Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters, have proven this myth to be false.
So there you have it, you can be at ease when pumping gas because your phone will not act as a portable bomb. Now static electricity is another story…
If you want to read lengthy explanations of this post with good sources, visit: http://www.snopes.com/autos/hazards/gasvapor.asp & http://truthandmyth.blogspot.com/2006/03/facts-about-cell-phones-and-fires-at.html