Most of these thermometers are new age scanners, which thrive on contactless technology, making use of an infrared wave (IR). The Infrared technology processes heat by using a lens to focus light from one object onto a detector, called a thermopile. The thermopile absorbs the IR radiation and turns it into heat, which then tells you the temperature of your skin.
Although there is evidence which suggests that forehead thermometers and thermal scanners may not be the most effective tools to check your temperature, there’s no denying it doesn’t work. In fact, it is a good measure in curbing the spread of the pandemic. However, a new Whatsapp forward making rounds on the internet suggests that such thermometers are plain BAD for you.
The claim in question, which has also been circulated on Twitter and Facebook suggests that infrared sensors present on the scanner are bad for a person’s skin and expose them to dangers.
According to the claim, thermometer guns repeatedly pointed at the forehead can possibly impact sensory signals present beneath the skin since they are pointed where the pituitary and pineal glands are present. There’s also a risk of chemical radiation, the claim mentioned, asking people to practice caution.
But does this really hold true?
Infrared and contactless thermometer guns work by using radiation but don’t necessarily send them inside the body and hence, don’t necessarily affect you. Remember, the thermometer has a unique sensor, the thermopile present in it which does not generate any radiation but picks up on the radiation reflecting from the body.
It works in a manner similar to the TV remote or other gadgets which make use of low-impact radiation. Medically, only diagnostic tools, such as X-Ray and CT scans can emit radiation into the body.
We also asked a doctor to provide factual evidence as well:
The recent claim is not the only one making rounds. The rumour also forced officials from the Malaysian Health Ministry to clear out the facts for the public and advise them to not be afraid of the scanners.
“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.”
There are also some claims which suggest that the radiation levels emitted from the scanners can impact your brain. This again holds no truth.
The only problems you can really encounter with thermal scanners is if you are using the ones which are meant for industrial use, and are not meant for human use. Thus, the claim is a hoax. As they say, don’t just believe everything you read on the internet.
Making use of these temperature scanners regularly is also not threatening. Since temperature checks are done from a distance, and not necessarily repeated throughout a day, occasional forehead temperature checks, say, 3-4 times weekly would not do much harm.
Here’s what you should know
A temperature scanner is a good way to check for a fever without fearing contamination. While there’s research going on to study its actual efficacy and usability, dismissing them off because of safety fears isn’t recommended.
To use it in the right manner, make sure you use the gun correctly and keep these factors in check- how far it is kept from the skin, the right time it is held for and the environment you are in. If you have previously smoked, undergoing stress or have a injury, only then can a forehead scanner throw up wrong results. For more accuracy, you could also check the temperature by pointing the scanner at any other sensitive part of the skin, such as the wrist.
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