Tuesday 1 December, 2020

Thermal scanning poses no health risk, epidemiologist says

Pictured: Immigration officers conduct a simulation showing handheld thermal scanners in use at the Piarco International Airport on February 7, 2020. Photo by Darlisa Ghouralal.

Pictured: Immigration officers conduct a simulation showing handheld thermal scanners in use at the Piarco International Airport on February 7, 2020. Photo by Darlisa Ghouralal.

Thermal scanning at the head and wrist is completely safe.

That’s the assurance coming from Dr Naresh Nandram, Principal Medical Officer – Epidemiology at the Ministry of Health as he sought to allay fears about possible health risks associated with the use of non-contact infrared thermometers.

These contactless thermometers have become almost standard in use at many establishments as a means of detecting possible novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection without risk of transmission.

At Monday’s virtual media briefing, Dr Nandram took note of theories being shared across social media that these thermometers are unsafe and have damaging effects on an individual’s health due to harmful radiation.

The epidemiologist said the radiation levels are “the same” that a person would encounter from the sun’s rays while outside.

He said: “Scanning on the forehead and wrist is acceptable. Either way is okay.

With regard to the notion of radiation… thermal scanning is safe. It’s an infrared thermometer and that’s the same infrared radiation that you get walking around in sunlight.”

“So, scanning on the forehead and wrist both measures are acceptable and it really doesn’t pose any health risk,” Dr Nandram add

Infrared thermometers sense heat emitted by the body. According to Dr Haris Sair, director of neuroradiology at Johns Hopkins University these contactless thermometers pose no risk to the pineal gland, which is located deep within the brain.

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