Can Infrared Thermometers Damage the Pineal Gland?

The claim that infrared thermometers can damage the pineal gland has been shared on Twitter and Facebook severally.


Infrared thermometers have become a popular means of measuring body temperature for large populations during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to the fact that they do not need direct contact with the body to give a temperature reading. However, overexposure to infrared radiation can cause health problems such as skin irritation and eye damage.


The pineal gland is a small, pea-shaped gland in the brain. Its function isn’t fully understood. Researchers do know that it produces and regulates some hormones, including melatonin. Melatonin is best known for the role it plays in regulating sleep patterns.

Non-contact infrared thermometers work by measuring the infrared radiation given off by any object, such as the human body, and converting this into a temperature reading. Infrared radiation is a part of the electromagnetic wave spectrum and is invisible to the naked eye. It can, however, be sensed by humans as warmth or heat.

As explained by the World Health Organization (WHO), the thermometers measure infrared radiation, rather than emitting it. The person whose temperature is being taken isn’t subject to any extra infrared radiation. The red light seen on these devices is just a beam of light to help the user aim it correctly. It is therefore impossible for it to damage the pineal gland.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that the use of infrared thermometers reduces the risk of cross-contamination and minimizes the spread of the virus.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) stressed the need for infrared thermometers to be properly calibrated and certified to establish their overall functionality, accuracy and reliability.

Piga Firimbi has previously debunked claims infrared thermometers can cause brain damage.


The claim that infrared thermometers can damage the pineal gland is FALSE.

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