Status: Partially true, partially fake
Dipankar Mitra sent me this graphic which is circulating via email, warning of a "Potential new risk from mobile phones." He notes that it's accompanied by a caption that reads:
Please use left ear while using cell (mobile), because if you use the right one it will affect brain directly. This is a true fact from Apollo medical team. Please forward to all your well wishers
He asks, "Do let me know if it is real or hoax..."
Well, the caption is definitely a hoax. I have no idea what the Apollo medical team is. (When I google the term I just pull up references to this email.) And the suggestion that it would somehow be safer to use your left ear rather than your right is absurd.
However, the graphic and the information in it are not a hoax. The illustration was created by the Graphic News agency
back in 2002. (Click 'Graphic Search' on their site, then do a keyword search for the term 'blood-brain barrier', and you'll pull up the graphic.) The information it describes comes from a study published in the May 2002 issue
of the scientific journal Differentiation
. Researcher Darius Leszcynski did find that when human endothelial cells were exposed to the maximum level of radiation allowed under international safety standards for mobile phones, a stress response could be observed in the cells. But he also noted that most mobile phones emit much less radiation than the levels used in the experiment. So there's probably no imminent danger of damaging your blood-brain barrier by using a mobile phone.