A Facebook user shared the image below to caution the public with claims that infrared thermometers being used for COVID-19 screening can damage brain cells.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, which has now infected over 13 million people globally, numerous measures have been put in place to curb the spread of the virus. Among the measures is regular handwashing with soap, social distancing and temperature screening especially at airports and other public places.
One method to measure a person’s surface temperature is with the use of non-contact infrared thermometers (NCITs).
Infrared radiation is a part of the electromagnetic wave spectrum. Radiations are often harmful to human beings as they can cause irritation and a burning sensation in the skin.
However, the best infrared thermometer contains almost no radiation. It works by receiving the thermal radiation emitted by humans, not vice versa. The laser beam emitted by the thermometer is used to help accurately pinpoint at an object to be measured.
NCITs may be used to reduce cross-contamination risk and minimize the risk of spreading disease. 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.
On May 12, 2020, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) stressed that the infrared thermometers must be properly calibrated and certified to establish their overall functionality, accuracy and reliability, as well as minimize the uncertainty of the measurements from screening.
There is no scientific evidence that infrared thermometers are harmful to brain cells, making the claim FALSE.