The Petrol Myth
By Jeff Goldman, Fri May 30 10:43:00 GMT 2003

A persistent rumor, spread by email, warns that mobile phones can start fires if used at filling stations. What's the truth behind the myth?

According to an email that's been making the rounds since 1999, a man in Indonesia was severely burned when he answered his mobile phone while refueling his car. The email quotes a newspaper article stating that static electricity from the phone ignited the vapors around the pump nozzle, severely injuring him and damaging his vehicle.

It's a great story-but there's no evidence it ever happened.

Soon after the rumor began spreading, a National Public Radio reporter tracked down the journalist who had originally published the story. "It turned out that the reporter that wrote the article wrote it third-hand, and it was her first article," explains Bob Renkes, Executive Vice President at the Jeff Goldman is a freelance writer covering a wide range of topics for a number of online journals. He currently writes regular articles for's ISP-Planet. Brought up in Belgium, Jeff spent the last decade in New York, Chicago and London; he now lives in Los Angeles.