BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Infrared thermometers are safe and pose no health risk, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws told a gathering at the September 18 National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC) press briefing.
“The human body emits electromagnetic radiation,” said Dr. Laws. “Most of the radiation emitted from the human body is in the infrared region.
“The handheld infrared thermometer is basically utilized to measure the body temperature,” said Dr. Laws. “The body emits the electromagnetic radiation in the form of infrared and the thermometer uses a lens to focus the light from the human body unto a detector in the machine. This lens is called a thermopile. The thermopile absorbs the infrared radiation, turns it into heat and then the infrared thermometer registers the body temperature.”
Dr. Laws noted that the infrared thermometer is used to absorb the infrared radiation coming from the human body.
“People are assuming that the thermometer emits radiation, when in fact it is the human body that is emitting the radiation picked up by the thermometer,” explained Dr. Laws. “The radiation is transformed into heat and then the thermometer registers the body temperature.
She said the thermometers do not emit infrared light but are used to measure infrared light to determine the body’s temperature.
“Some of these non-contact thermometers emit a dim light,” she said. ‘It may appear red. Basically it is utilized by the operator of the infrared thermometer to make sure that the thermometer is pointed on the forehead and not on your hair or on your eyebrow.”
Dr. Laws said that the thin, dim, red light, is visible, but harmless.
“In other words, the light emitted by the thermometer is visible, you can see it, however it is harmless,” she said. “Please note that this dim, red light is not infrared light. It is not a laser beam.”
She said that these sensors do not emit infrared light or any other type of electromagnetic beam.
“It’s just an ordinary light and we are all exposed to ordinary light as I am in a lit room now,” said Dr. Laws. “My body, my brain cells, my pineal gland is impacted by the light in this room. There is no harm to my brain or my pineal gland by sitting in this room.”