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30,000 volt synthetic jacket menaces Oz

Static discharge apparel alert

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Those readers who thought that the biggest threat from wearing clothes hewn from synthetic materials was to your street cred, be warned: they could transform you into a walking static bomb ready to discharge carpet-threatening voltages.

Just ask Frank Clewer, a high-energy Aussie from Warrnambool, Victoria, who accumulated an estimated 30,000 volts of static charge simply by walking around his home town in inadvisably large quantities of non-natural tailoring. According to ABC News Online, he then walked into the lobby of a local business and unleashed the stored energy through the floor.

A shaken Clewer said: "It sounded almost like a firecracker or something like that. It was at the reception area. Within say, around five minutes, the carpet started to erupt."

The County Fire Authority (CFA) immediately implemented its synthetic clothing emergency protocol and evacuated the building lest a crackling Clewer threaten electrical systems.

Scientist Karl Kruszelnicki later explained: "This poor guy has built up static electricity thanks to an unfortunate combination of insulating clothes that he's wearing, static, synthetic clothes, just walking along and he's just building up this static charge everywhere. I've read of it but I've never heard of it here in Australia."

The CFA wisely impounded Clewer's jacket, which continues "to give off voltage". ®

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