phone

  • Radiation from phone, not torchlight, causes gas explosion

    Claim: A post on Instablo9ja points to phone torchlight as the cause of a gas explosion that killed a footballer a day before his birthday. 

    Radiation from  a mobile phone can cause an explosion when it meets on a parallel line with the radiation from a leaking gas cylinder. So  it is not  the rays of light from a phone that  causes an explosion when it comes in contact with leaking gas but a spark in the phone. The claim is false.

    Full Text

    There have been various claims on social media about a gas explosion caused by a phone torchlight about which a young talented footballer identified as Enwongo Derick Udosen and two other persons have attracted the sympathy of online users on various social media platforms. 

    On instablog9ja, the talented footballer was alleged to have died a day before his birthday due to a gas explosion that was triggered by the torchlight on his phone. The unfortunate incident  was said to have occurred on the 6th of October, 2021, along Nwanniba Road, Uyo, just a day to  the footballer’s birthday.

    The post on Instablog9ja further explained that: “It was gathered that a fellow tenant had wanted to prepare food and used his phone torchlight for illumination before striking a match to ignite his gas cylinder, which immediately exploded, killing him and Udosen.”

    The story also resurfaced on Linda Ikeji’s blog posing the same narrative, even adding that: “The Director of the Akwa Ibom State Fire Service, Ubong Umoh, lamented that his organisation had, frequently, warned users of gas cylinders against using phone torchlight when cooking.” Other news platforms such as  Orange Sports news page and  Neighbourhood News Today reported that Mr Udosen’s death was also due to the gas explosion ignited by the phone torchlight. 

    However, some users who commented on the matter implied that other causes aside from phone torchlight might have triggered the accident.  A user, T. Osikirin,  commented, “He lit the gas cooker, not knowing that it was leaking. I was staying in my room when I heard an explosion.”

    Another comment from another person addressed as Anonymous said “This country makes me sad. Incidents like this are quite avoidable but we are in an impoverished  country where people can barely afford anything. RIP man, all his dreams now gone. This is unfair.”

    Another comment from another “Anonymous” source said, “A leaky gas cooker caused the explosion and not a phone torchlight. Even those who should know speak like idiots.”

    While the Death of the young footballer may also be a matter for public debate, the arguments seem to revolve around the possibility of a phone’s torchlight triggering a gas explosion. Hence, the point for verification. 

    Verification

    There are numerous narratives around what triggers gas explosions. However, according to research by Zinda Law Group, a nationwide personal Injury Lawyer in Dallas, USA, gas explosion primarily take place when a spark is brought near a leaking gas. The research did not point to a telephone torchlight as a causative agent of gas explosion.

    Further explanations 

    The Director, Kwara State Fire service, Prince Falade John Olumuyiwa, also said a phone torchlight could cause a gas explosion.

    The Fire safety expert explained that when naked light is brought near uncontrolled gas, an explosion can  occur. 

    “It is obvious that cell phones are not friendly with gas appliances because the two elements travel in waves. The radioactivity of both waves can influence the atmospheric pressure of the gas against inner pressure which could eventually lead to expansion and contraction and eventually, a possible explosion.” he said. 

    He further elucidated that “even a flash from a camera can spark the petrol in a can, not to talk of gas which is highly inflammable. When the two waves between a radio or television collide on the same parallel line, it is called electromagnetic jams, and a phone can ignite any highly inflammable products,” he explains.

    Does phone radiation trigger gas explosions?

    Mrs. Medina Adesola Salami, an expert in electromagnetic radiation and an Engineer of the department of Electrical Engineering, Kwara State Polytechnic, explained that electromagnetic radiation needs only a spark to ignite fire or an explosion to occur. 

    Engineer Salami said, “There have been various research on whether a phone can spark an explosion and many of the research have similar outcomes: It is possible because of radiation generated from sparks between two metals and gas which is subconsciously in the air.” 

    Regarding the claim in question,  Engineer Salami identified three factors that could have led to the death of the footballer. She said the match that was lit is the first possible factor.  

    “You know when you open a door, metals clash to allow the door open, that slight touch between the two metals is enough to generate a spark into an enclosed environment where gas has leaked to cause the explosion,” she pointed out.

    She attributed the  second factor to a click on the phone. “The movement of radiation can also ignite a spark and when combined with a leaked gas cylinder in a room, an explosion may be imminent,” she categorically emphasised. 

    “It is not the rays of light from the torchlight that causes the spark but a click on the phone is a go-ahead for two metals inside the phone to radiate a spark into the atmosphere that has gas,” Salami added. 

    Conclusion 

    Radiation from  a mobile phone can cause an explosion when it meets on a parallel line with the radiation from a leaking gas cylinder. So it is not  the rays of light from a phone that causes an explosion when it comes in contact with leaking gas, but a spark in the phone.

    Nonetheless, experts warn the general public not to use their phones close to  gas cylinders (which could be leaking) as a major precaution.

  • What danger does sleeping with a phone under your pillow pose to you?

    Claim: Sleeping with one’s phone under the pillow is dangerous to one’s health.

    There is no medical evidence to prove that sleeping with a phone under a pillow is dangerous to one’s health. But it is advisable not to do so.

    Full Text

    The usual practice for most people, especially youths who fiddle with their phones the most, is to sleep with it close to them, especially underneath their pillows. This is because it aids easy access to the phone and enables them to hear when it rings.

    However, an article by Pulseng recently was posted online on the reasons why one should not sleep with a phone under the pillow. The article is tagged “Why sleeping with one’s phone in bed can affect one’s health.”

    And as such, people have now reacted to it, saying that sleeping with one’s phone under the pillow is dangerous.

    Screenshot of the article

    According to the article, sleeping with your phone near you can be harmful for your bodily functions and tends to limit the production of many significant hormones. It could even damage one’s brain.

    The article advocates that it is better to place the phone several feet away from one’s bed if it is not going to be switched off.

    Some Twitter users SG(@sgxphotos) and Redheaddevilchild (@redheaddevilch1) have reacted to the claim in different posts.

    Screenshot of a Twitter post

    So, is it then true that sleeping with one’s phone under the pillow is hazardous to one’s health?

    Verification

    This researcher discovered that this question has been raised a couple of times, especially on Quora, an American question and answer website.

    A user of the website identified as Owen Saltvold while answering the question, said it is completely safe for one’s brain and health to leave the phone close when one sleeps.

    Screenshot of the Quora post

    While another user  Lieselotte Laura said putting her phone close to her head for use as an alarm clock caused her headache and as such that practice is not safe at all.

    Screenshot of the second Quora post

    This researcher also discovered a video on Facebook that spells the danger of sleeping with one’s phone underneath the pillow and it has so far garnered 226,000 views.

    According to an IT education website Technopedia, a mobile phone is a wireless handheld device that allows users to make and receive calls.

    While the earliest generation of mobile phones can only make and receive calls, today’s mobile phones do a lot more, accommodating web browsers, games, cameras, video players, extra voice and data services.

    A mobile phone typically operates on a cellular network, which is composed of cell sites scattered throughout cities and even villages. However, the cellular network used for mobile phones now called ‘smart phones’ has also evolved.

    Every day, we’re swimming in a sea of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) produced by electrical appliances, power lines, wiring in buildings, and a heap of other technologies that are part of modern life. From the dishwasher and microwave oven in the kitchen and the clock radio next to your bed to the cellular phone you hold to your ear—sometimes for hours each day—exposure to EMR is growing and is said to be becoming a serious health threat.

    For some, it is the EMR from cellular phones–both the radiation from the handsets and from the tower-based antennas carrying the signals, which some studies have linked to development of brain tumours, genetic damage, and other exposure-related conditions.

    Mobile phones are low-powered radio frequency transmitters, operating at frequencies between 450 and 2700 MHz with peak powers in the range of 0.1 to 2 watts. The handset only transmits power when it is turned on. The power (and hence the radiofrequency exposure to a user) falls off rapidly with increasing distance from the handset. 

    A person using a mobile phone 30–40 cm away from their body – for example when text messaging, accessing the Internet, or using a “hands-free” device – will therefore have a much lower exposure to radiofrequency fields than someone holding the handset against their head.

    A Consultant Radiologist with the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo (UNIMED), Dr Femi Akindeju, said it has not necessarily been proven that sleeping with a phone underneath a pillow is dangerous to one’s health, adding that phones however emit low radio waves that have little or no effect on one’s health.

    He said, “when it comes to physics, phones use radio waves and in electromagnetic waves, we have so many in the spectrum, some with very low energy and others with very high energy and we know that all these smartphones use radio waves, but they are in the lower chain of the spectrum and to a large extent this shows that it has very low energy unlike those with high energy like X-ray and gamma ray.”

    “The thing with electromagnetic waves is that it has the potential of causing Ionization, especially if it has high energy. However, radio waves do not have such power or effect as the energy is not enough so as to cause ionization of the cells. 

    “I would however discourage the long exposure of people to their phones, but as for sleeping with phones under a pillow, I won’t actually say it is dangerous, because the length of time one will have to be in contact with one can usually not be reached as far as radio wave is concerned,” he said.

    A radiographer with the University College Hospital (UCH), Dr Taiwo Orimogunje, said that sleeping with a phone under a pillow is dangerous.

    Dr Orimogunje said “well, it’s been known that gadgets like mobile phones do emit some radiation, and this could readily affect one’s brain, especially children. It has also been said to cause tumours in the brain and so it is a risk factor for the development of some brain tumours like Meningioma which is a tumour that covers the brain and spinal cord just inside the skull.”

    Meanwhile, a Consultant Neurologist, Dr Taofik Sunmonu with the Federal Medical Center (FMC), Owo, Ondo state, said there is no evidence to support such claims, adding that it is just what people have come to believe over time.

    “We have been hearing about this claim before now, and this is due to the radiation which emits from the phones and other gadgets but the quantity varies. And it is also believed that if the phone is too close to a person for too long, then the amount of radiation will be different and could be dangerous- but that is basically what we know for now.”

    “However, it is not the best practice to put phones close to one’s head, because anything that emits radiation over time can damage tissues in the body and as such when you want to sleep, it is better to put your phones away from you” he said.

    Conclusion

    Although there is no evidence to prove medically if indeed sleeping with a phone under a pillow is dangerous to one’s health, it has been proven that phones do emit a level of radiation. So, it is, therefore, advised that users prevent prolonged usage of the phone and always keep the phones away from themselves when going to bed.

    The researcher produced this fact check article per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Crest FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

  • Many believe using phones at fuel stations causes fire explosions but is this true?

    Claim: Using phones in a fuel station or near fuel at home can cause an explosion. 

    No, mobile phones cannot cause fire when it comes in contact with fuel except there is a spark 

    Full Text

    Since the introduction of mobile phones to Nigeria, many people believe that using phones at a filling station can cause explosions. Different messages are churned out year after year about the danger of not switching off your phones at filling stations and reasons why phones should not be used in the kitchen.

     A number of news reports had reported cases where use of phones while using the generator had caused a fire explosion. Although there have been no reported cases of mobile phones  causing explosions at fuel stations in Nigeria, there have been some cases in foreign countries.

    A filling station

    A news report  read, “Tragedy struck in Agege area of Lagos State, South West Nigeria when a staff of Fidelity Bank PLC was burnt to death while trying to switch on a generating set which caught fire when a call came in his GSM handset.

    “We gathered that the victim, Mr. David Adeogun, got married not too long ago and had a new baby.

    “Investigations revealed that Adeogun, a staff of the Ikosi, Ketu branch of the bank got home after work and wanted to switch on the generating set with the torchlight on his phone when the phone rang, The generating set was said to have exploded immediately when the phone rang. His body, it was learnt.”

    There have also been multiple reports, especially YouTube videos that show that mobile phones cause explosions.

    Verification

    A visit to a number of filling stations shows that many filling stations still express a certain level of caution to prevent fire outbreak or explosion. Some of the safety rules at filling stations reads; ‘No smoking, stop your machine, switch off your phone amongst many others.’

    What you need to know about mobile phones and fuel

    A mobile phone is a wireless handheld device that allows users to make and receive calls. While the earliest generation of mobile phones could only make and receive calls, today’s mobile phones do a lot more, accommodating web browsers, games, cameras, video players and navigational systems.

    Also, while mobile phones used to be mainly known as “cell phones” or cellular phones, today’s mobile phones are more commonly called “smartphones” because of all of the extra voice and data services that they offer.

    According to fossbytes.com,there are a myriad number of smartphones available today, it’s all a game of different designs, features, cameras, display quality, performance, battery life and numerous other things that consumers are looking for. However, what goes on beneath these mobile computing machines is equally important because if you’re knowledgeable in this aspect, then you can come close to making a purchasing decision less excruciating down the road.

    Components of mobile phones

    Major components of a mobile phone includes

    A circuit board containing the brains of the phone

    An antenna

    A liquid crystal display (LCD)

    A keyboard (not unlike the one you find in a TV remote control)

    A microphone

    A speaker

    A battery

    Petroleum, or crude oil according to petroleum.co.uk, as it is now usually referred to when raw, contains several chemical compounds, the most prolific being the hydrocarbons themselves which give the petroleum composition its combustible nature.

    Petroleum Composition

    Although the composition of petroleum will contain many trace elements the key compounds are carbon (93% – 97%), hydrogen (10% – 14%), nitrogen (0.1% – 2%), oxygen (01.% – 1.5%) and sulphur (0.5% – 6%) with a few trace metals making up a very small percentage of the petroleum composition.

    The actual overall properties of each different petroleum source are defined by the percentage of the four main hydrocarbons found within petroleum as part of the petroleum composition.

    The percentages for these hydrocarbons can vary greatly, giving the crude oil a quite distinct compound personality depending upon geographic region. These hydrocarbons are typically present in petroleum at the following percentages: paraffins (15% – 60%), napthenes (30% – 60%), aromatics (3% to 30%), with asphaltics making up the remainder.

    Over the years, there have been controversies around whether the use of mobile phones cause fire explosions at filling stations or while pouring fuel in the generator at home. 

    Many messages have gone viral on various social media platforms stating why using phones while in contact with petrol can ;lead to fire explosions. 

    However, a quick check by The Punch, revealed that there is no direct link between usage of phone and fire when one is near a fuel or filling station. 

    Using phone close to fuel cannot cause fire -Experts

    In a phone interview with The Punch, a professor of Communication Engineering, Prof Francis Idachabba, explained that there is no direct link between phones causing fire explosions at filling stations while pouring fuel in the generator. 

    He said, “It’s not likely that a fire would happen while using your phone at a filling station. An explosion won’t happen unless there is a contact between the fuel and fire” 

    Debunking the myths that when phones get too hot it might cause a fire,  the professor said, “The manufacturers have specifications. For mobile phones to generate so much power to the extent that it would cause fire in a petrol station is a claim that is unfounded.

    “The technology for phones and fuel are very different. They are on separate arcs. Nobody has shown any proof that  using a mobile phone at a filling station can cause it.Technically too from the place I am seeing it, the relationships are very far apart.”

    Idachaba stated that if phones could exhibit such a level of danger, the manufacturers wouldn’t have allowed it in the marketplace. 

    He stated, “ Most of these devices are ensured not to cause these things. If phones have the capacity to cause explosions like that, I am sure the use of the phone will be limited and such precautions would have been given by the manufacturers.All these are presumptions that have not been validated to the best of my knowledge.” 

    Talking about fire explosions while using the generator, the engineering don said that it was important to observe the condition with which the fire explosion happened.

    Idachaba stated, “It is important to note the condition which the generator was in rather than just generalising. Was the generator on  while they were pouring the fuel inside the generator? Because if the generator is on it will be hot and petrol and heat are not very friendly.  And that is why you are usually told not to switch on your engine while topping it up.

    “For the generator, it should be switched off and allowed to cool off before the fuel is poured inside because the exhaust is usually very hot. But to suggest that using a phone as a torchlight to pour fuel in the generator would cause a fire is very unlikely.” 

    Idachabba said that for a phone that is not in use to generate heat that could cause an explosion is almost impossible just as it is still not likely when in use. 

    He stated, “When you  are holding your phone and not making a call, it does nothing. What happens while using your phone is what we call status update,  the updates are sent from the phone to the nearest GPS intermediately.

    “To say that a phone that is not in will cause a fire is a little far-fetched, it should not. This is engineering but except the conditions that can make room for such.

    “But, I have not seen and there is no empirical fact to show that using a phone torchlight while pouring fuel in the generator will cause fire. I haven’t seen that before. It is not straightforward like that but there are chances that it can happen under certain conditions.”

    In the same vein, an oil and gas analyst, Bala Zakk,a also explained the components of fuel and the process of distillation while analysing if phones were capable of causing fuel at fire stations. 

    He said, “When we talk about crude oil generally , we are talking about fossil fuels. During distillation for refining,they come out based on their specific gravity or weight. And when these products start coming out based on their weight or gravity. The lighter the product, the more flammable it becomes. 

    “In other words, gas is lighter than petrol,petrol is lighter than diesel and kerosene while they are lighter than Bitumen. The lighter the products, the more inflammable  or dangerous it would be when it comes close to a source of fire. 

    “That is why when you see a case of gas tanker fire it is more deadly than that of petrol and petrol is more dangerous than that of diesel and kerosine. When you talk about these petroleum product, the only thing that will generate friction between them is friction that would generate light not electricity

    “Electricity is different from the kind of light that will generate flame. It is different from a friction that generates heat that would produce a flame. So, there is no relation between using a phone and causing a fire at a fuel station.” 

    The petroleum analyst said that there was however a slim chance if there was a spark from the electricity which could generate fire.

    Zakka added, “However, a spark from the phone as a result of electrical charges can cause flame and when you have a source of gas, petrol or other products depending on how flammable they are,  then you can have an explosion. Fuel and phones are two different products, phones can’t  cause fire. 

    “Phones function based on what we know as electrical charges, the electrical charges don’t generate normal flames but when there is a spark, like when you put two batteries together and it produces a spark, then we can have a flame. 

    “A car battery is a good example, a car battery does not cause fire, it powers a car to move but when you now put the heads of a battery together, it would generate a spark. If there is no source of generating a spark, then a phone can never generate a spark that would cause fire. 

    “What is being done at the filling station is a case that I will call prevention is better and cheaper than cure.  It is better to prevent it than look for medicine to cure it after the explosion.” 

    Conclusion

    Using phones near petrol and other petroleum products does not cause fire as opposed to the general belief but there is a likelihood if there is an electrical spark. 

    The researcher produced this fact-check per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame KariKari Fellowship partnership with Punch.ng to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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