| An email is circulation claiming
that cell phones cause fires at gas stations, and warning people not to use
their cell phones while pumping gas. While the email has some merit with its
title about static, there are no documented cases regarding cell phones being
the cause of fires while fueling cars.
Company has informed Boycott Watch that the email being sent out is "not a bona
fide communication from Shell." As such, Shell can not verify the legitimacy of
the email as originating from Shell.
There have been,
however, reports that static has been linked to sparks and fires at the
gasoline pumps, but there are no direct correlations to cell phones as the
cause. The cause of the static is, however, related to motorists re-entering
the vehicle while refueling, which is very tempting in the winter months to
The Petroleum Equipment Institute, which
is credited as the source of the data, does have a link on their web site
http://www.pei.org about static at the gas pumps, but the only mention of a
cell phone in the log of 149 incidents covering more than 12 years did not
implicate the cell phones. The report mentioned that a cell phone was being
used before a fire was detected, but the cell phone was not considered the
cause of the fire.
The Shell letter to Boycott Watch
summed up the cell phone situation as follows: "The use of mobile phones while
refueling a vehicle is
discouraged because it may divert concentration
and lead to possible spills and accidents."
Watch therefore feels that the email in circulation is inaccurate. The real
problem of static is caused by people re-entering their vehicles during the
fueling process, which is most commonly done to keep warm in the winter.
|Supporting Articlesand Web Sites:
|Start Of Original email:
| Subject: Gas Station Alert
The Shell Oil Company recently issued a warning after
three incidents in which mobile phones (cell phones) ignited fumes during
In the first case, the phone was
placed on the car's trunk lid during fueling; it rang and the ensuing fire
destroyed the car and the gasoline pump.
second, an individual suffered severe burns to their face when fumes ignited as
they answered a call while refueling their car.
in the third, an individual suffered burns to the thigh and groin as fumes
ignited when the phone, which was in their pocket, rang while they were fueling
You should know that:
Phones can ignite fuel or fumes
Mobile phones that
light up when switched on or when they ring release enough energy to provide a
spark for ignition
Mobile phones should not be used
in filling stations, or when fueling lawn mowers, boat! , Etc.
Mobile phones should not be used, or should be turned
off, around other materials that generate flammable or explosive fumes or dust,
(i.e. solvents, chemicals, gases, grain dust, etc.)
To sum it up, here are the: Four Rules for Safe
1) Turn off engine
2) Don't smoke
3) Don't use your
cell phone - leave it inside the vehicle or turn it off
4) Don't re-enter
your vehicle during fueling
Bob Renkes of Petroleum
Equipment Institute is working on a campaign to try and make people aware of
fires as a result of" static electricity" at gas pumps. His company has
researched 150 cases of these fires.
His results were very surprising:
1) Out of 150 cases, almost all of them were women.
2) Almost all cases
involved the person getting back in their vehicle while the nozzle was still
pumping gas. When finished, they went back to pull the nozzle out and the fire
started, as a result of static.
3) Most had on rubber-soled shoes.
Most men never get back in their vehicle until completely finished. This is why
they are seldom involved in these types of fires.
5) Don't ever use cell
phones when pumping gas
6) It is the vapors that come out of the gas that
cause the fire, when connected with static charges.
7) There were 29 fires
where the vehicle was re-entered and the nozzle was touched during refueling
from a variety of makes and models. Some resulted in extensive damage to the
vehicle, to the station, and to the customer..
8) Seventeen fires occurred
before, during or immediately after the gas cap was removed and before fueling
Mr. Renkes stresses to NEVER get back into
your vehicle while filling it with gas.
absolutely HAVE to get in your vehicle while the gas is pumping, make sure you
get out, close the door TOUCHING THE METAL, before you ever pull the nozzle
out. This way the static from your body will be discharged before you ever
remove the nozzle.
As I mentioned earlier, The
Petroleum Equipment Institute, along with several other companies now, are
really trying to make the public aware of this danger. You can find out more
information by going to http://www.pei.org. Once here, click in the center of
the screen where it says "Stop Static".
I ask you to
please send this information to ALL your family and friends, especially those
who have kids in the car with them while pumping gas. If this were to happen to
them, they may not be able to get the children out in time. Thanks for passing
|End Of Original email:
|Boycott Watch Note: The injuries above are not
supported by the PEI as caused by cell phones usage.
|---- Start of Shell Response -----
Dear Mr. Taub:
That "warning" you refer to is not a bona fide
communication from Shell. This email has been circulating on the internet for
some time now. We can't vouch for the events it describes, or the source of the
We are aware that there have been reports of
fires or small explosions, including some at service stations, when a mobile
phone was present. We understand that, in most instances, there is still not
conclusive evidence of the ignition source. We do not wish to speculate on
possible linkage of any specific incident to mobile phone use.
Although there have been a number of studies, there
is no conclusive and generally accepted proof that all mobile phones are safe
to use in potentially explosive environments.
number of mobile phone manufacturers recommend that their phones are not used
in areas with potentially explosive atmospheres. The following is an example
(Ericsson T66): "Turn off your mobile phone when in any area with a potentially
explosive atmosphere. It is rare, but your mobile phone or its accessories
could generate sparks. Sparks in such areas could cause an explosion or fire
resulting in bodily injury or even death. Areas with a potentially explosive
atmosphere are often, but not always, clearly marked. They include fuelling in
areas such petrol stations, below decks on boats, fuel or chemical transfer or
We consider that the risk from
the use of mobile phones on a retail site, particularly in sections away from
the refueling area and tank vents, to be low, but cannot be totally ruled out.
In such circumstances we have adopted a precautionary approach.
The use of mobile phones while refueling a vehicle is
also discouraged because it may divert concentration and lead to possible
spills and accidents.
There are static electricty
issues not associated with cell phones, however. I'd refer you to the American
website on that issue:
have further questions or would like more information, feel free to contact us
at the link below. Please submit replies using the 'Submit Inquiry' link to
ensure we receive your inquiry.
Shell Oil Company
|---- End of Shell Response -----