Infrared thermometers do not affect the pineal gland

19 August 2020
What was claimed

Infrared thermometers harm the pineal gland.

Our verdict

This is incorrect. Infrared thermometers do not emit infrared radiation, they measure it.

A video and accompanying caption on Facebook have claimed that infrared temperature guns can damage the pineal gland. In the video, a woman films an encounter at a dentist, where she refuses to let staff take her children’s temperature using an infrared thermometer.

These have been used widely during the coronavirus pandemic to measure temperature while avoiding contact which could spread Covid-19

It is incorrect to say that these devices can have any harmful effect on a person’s pineal gland.

Infrared is a form of radiation that is invisible to the naked eye but can be sensed by humans as warmth or heat. The pineal gland is a small part of the brain that produces and regulates hormones. 

Non-contact infrared thermometers work by measuring the infrared radiation given off by an object or person and converting this into a temperature. As these devices measure infrared 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 that, a beam of light to help the user aim it correctly.

Overexposure to infrared radiation can cause health problems such as skin burns and eye damage, but this is not an issue with infrared thermometers.

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because infrared thermometers measure infrared radiation, they don’t emit it and it doesn’t damage the pineal gland.

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