Real and phantom risks at the petrol station: The curious case of mobile phones, fires and body static

Burgess, Adam (2007) Real and phantom risks at the petrol station: The curious case of mobile phones, fires and body static. Health, Risk & Society, 9 (1). pp. 53-66. ISSN 1369-8575. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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This case study examines the alleged hazard associated with mobile phone use at petrol stations and suggests that it is a phantom risk. Understanding its persistence in the absence of evidence, a number of factors are outlined. A precautionary safety regime enforced by oil companies in the UK established a restriction on mobile use on station forecourts that had the effect of confirming a danger. Warning signs in mobile phone handbooks had a similar effect and led to further restrictions at petrol stations. Among a number of problematic consequences, most ironic has been to distract from the real cause of the increased number of petrol stations fires at, particularly, American petrol stations. Investigations have identified the real cause, body static generated through vehicle re-entry while refuelling. This episode suggests the need for clarity about the precise reasons behind any restrictions on the use of a popular device that is already established as a potential, but invariably unconfirmed, health hazard.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: rumour; mobile phone; petrol station; fire; static
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Sociology
Depositing User: Suzanne Duffy
Date Deposited: 31 Mar 2008 13:19
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2014 10:51
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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