Fact Check: Is Infrared Thermometer Use on Forehead Harmful?
A message is being shared on social media claiming that use of infrared thermometer on the forehead causes damage.
A message is being shared on social media claiming that repeated use of infrared thermal guns on the forehead to check temperature causes damage, because the thermal gun points where the pituitary glands and pineal glands are located, and the infrared radiation released from the thermometer penetrates the skin to affect their activity.
Similar claims have been made in different languages on social media regarding infrared thermometers.
Right Or Wrong?
Dr Rohan Sequeria, General Medicine Consultant, Jaslok Hospital and Research Center in Mumbai, rubbished this claim. "First of all, infrared thermometers do not send infrared radiation, but receive the infrared radiation of the body. Everything in the world emits infrared radiation."
“Inside the infrared thermometer is a device called a thermopile. This thermopile captures the infrared radiation of the body and converts it to the temperature number.”Dr. Rohan Sequeria, Consultant, General Medicine, Jaslok Hospital and Research Center, Mumbai
Referring to such viral claims on social media, Malaysia's Health Ministry has also issued a press statement declaring that it is wrong to claim that infrared thermometers damage the brain or the pineal gland.
The ministry has said,
A non-contact infrared thermometer is not a shooting device emitting radiation. It detects and emits heat emanating from the human body in the form of infrared rays and converts it into electricity.
The electronic circuit inside the thermometer processes the electrical signal and gives the reading on the screen.
The sensor of the thermometer measures the temperature of the person by gauging the radiation emanating from their body, and does not generate harmful electromagnetic radiation itself, so it is safe to use.
Dr Sequeria explains that the TV's remote also generates infrared radiation, but it is so light that it does not cause any harm and can not penetrate the pineal gland. Doctors say that radiation penetration inside the body is done by X-ray, CT scan and MRI.
Will Using Thermal Gun on Wrist Give Better Reading?
The reason why we use an infrared thermometer on the forehead, Dr Sequeria explains, is because the more surface area these thermometers get, the more accurate the reading is.
The press release issued by the Malaysian Ministry of Health says that while there have been some studies regarding the use of thermometers on the wrist, there is still no evidence to confirm its accuracy.
The accuracy of measuring the body temperature of a person using a thermal gun depends on how and where it is being used, which can have an impact on the reading.
For example, if it is not placed close to a person's forehead, it can give very low readings. At the same time, if there is a lot of heat and you are coming from the sun outside, then it can show a higher reading.
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