Myths about thermometers and why they are safe Myths about thermometers and why they are safe

The fact that they emit a red light does not mean they are harmful to your body. Learn how pyrometers or non-contact thermometers work.

In the past it was common to use glass thermometers, which were placed in areas such as the mouth or armpits, and after a few minutes provided information on body temperature. However, their use is not as common anymore because it is a slow process and the devices contain mercury, which is a highly toxic substance. Today, digital thermometers with an electronic substitute are used for home use to take our temperatures.

Regarding the ones currently being used in stores and public places, there have been chains of messages or social media posts stating that they can affect the skin or burn neurons in the brain, causing irreversible damage. These are the so-called non-contact thermometers or pyrometers, and temperature is taken through infrared light, which is a type of electromagnetic radiation. According to a statement issued by the UPB, a lens captures the radiation emitted by the body, which then converts it into an electric current and presents the result on the screen.

Mateo Mejía Tobón, mechanical engineer from the UPB, explained that these new thermometers “do not cause any type of damage to the human body because their functioning is based on capturing the intensity of radiant energy emitted by the body, converting it in a measurable value for us, in this case, our temperature.”

With regards to eyes and skin, the expert clarified that there is also no harm done because the red light is only a sensor and not infrared radiation. “It is only an indicator that serves as a reference to the place you are pointing to,” states Mejía, but it does not emit any type of wave, which is why it is not harmful.

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