Mobile Myths!

I’m stating a new segment on mobile myths.. for the next few weeks I’ll explore 3 myths every Wednesday!

1) Cell phones crash planes

Myth: If you use a cell phone while flying, the signal can interfere with the plane’s compass and navigation systems, possibly leading to a crash.

True or False? 
It’s debatable. Anyone who’s flown knows that flight attendants ask you to turn off all electronics, including phones, until after takeoff. According to one pilot who was interviewed by ABC News, the reason for this is so you pay attention to safety instructions, and, in the case of an aborted liftoff, “I don’t want a laptop flying across the cabin.” A UK study in 2003 showed some interference with compasses and navigation systems, but that was done in controlled settings, not on real planes. More recent studies by the NASA and the FAA have found no instances where a cell phone caused a crash, although some pilots claimed otherwise. Currently, the approach is “better safe than sorry,” but they say that systems in aircraft are shielded enough not to be disrupted. As soon as it’s proven that there’s no link or threat, you’ll be able to talk someone’s ear off instead of watching the horrible in-flight movie. Its interesting to note that in Europe, there are no rules banning mobile use while flying, yet in North America, you can;t even leave an ebook on during take off.

2) Cell phones can cause gas station fires.

Myth: While pumping gas, using or turning on your phone can release a charge of static electricity that will ignite the fuel.

True or false? False. This rumor dates back to the ’90, when a phony e-mail made the rounds of people’s in-boxes around the world. The e-mail claimed that Shell Oil had issued a warning about three instances of cell phones causing fires at the pumps. When contacted about it in 2003, Shell claimed it was a complete hoax and that it wasn’t aware of any such incidents. While it has been proved that static electricity can cause fuel vapors to combust, cell phones do not emit a strong enough amount to ignite anything. Smoking, however, will still cause problems. Boom.

3) Cell phones cause cancer

 Prolonged cell phone use can cause brain cancer or tumors because of radiation.

True or false? Debatable. Ever since cell phones became popular, both the media and average people have claimed that cell phones can cause cancer. Unfortunately, there have been many medical studies on the issue and they still don’t offer any definitive proof. A 2005 study of 4,000 Europeans by the Institute of Cancer Research found no link to any types of cancer among regular phone users, but did say that radiation could potentially cause adverse effects, so moderation was recommended. Last month, an Israeli scientist claimed that phone use causes tumors in salivary glands, saying that regular users had an increased risk of 50% for developing tumors. A few weeks before that, an Australian cancer specialist said the exact opposite (same goes for coffee and breast implants). For now, this one seems like a personal choice, so proceed at your own risk.

Stay tuned for 3 more myths next week!


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