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Verify: Infrared thermometers are not going to harm your brain

A viewer reached out to us to find out if pointing a "laser" thermometer at your forehead could impact the pineal gland.

ATLANTA — As more businesses and schools reopen, you may have seen people using infrared thermometers to check temperatures before allowing someone to enter. 

But a viewer contacted us - worried the thermometers, meant to avoid direct contact, could actually be harmful.

The concern is whether the infrared thermometers can damage a specific part of your brain.

The Question

Is it safe to aim an infrared laser light at the pineal gland?

Credit: WXIA

The Answer

Yes, an infrared laser thermometer is safe to point at someones head, and won't impact your pineal gland.

What We Found

The viewer that contacted us was concerned that pointing the laser at the pineal gland, which produces hormones, would cause damage. 

According to our medical expert Dr. Sujatha Reddy, a physician who has been practicing medicine for over two decades, the gland isn't even near the area being scanned. 

"The pineal gland is actually in the middle of your brain, really closer to the back of your head, it's not anywhere near your forehead," Dr. Reddy explained. 

She said taking someones temperature with the laser device is the best way to do it. 

"It actually is one of the safest ways there is for us to get through this pandemic because there is no contact," Dr. Sujatha Reddy said.

How the thermometer works is by scanning the amount of heat being generated. 

"The molecules that make up objects are vibrating constantly; the hotter the molecule is, the faster it vibrates, producing invisible light in the form of infrared energy," according to sciencing.com

That energy is then converted in the device to show the temperature of the object you are pointing it at. 

"The thermometer really isn't putting anything into that person," Dr. Reddy said.

If you have something you'd like our team to verify, email us at verify@11alive.com.