MoH debunks viral ‘thermal gun causes brain, eye damage’ message

Syazwani Hj Rosli

Following the viral message on social media regarding concerns in using the ‘thermal gun’ for temperature check on the forehead, the Ministry of Health (MoH) yesterday clarified that the information is false.

The thermal gun or also known as ‘non contactable infrared thermometer’ or ‘temperature gun’ is safe and there is no scientific evidence showing that it can cause harm to the eyes or the brain.

The MoH said the thermal gun only uses infrared that has different properties and effects.

The function of the infrared lamp found on thermal guns focusses on the part of the body being checked.

It does not produce radiation like in X-ray machines.

Radiologist Consultant at the Radiology Department of the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital Dr Nor Lenny binti Abdullah clarified that infrared thermometers used for temperature checks at hospitals, shops, schools and other places are safe.

She explained that infrared radiation is part of electromagnetic radiation similar to radio waves, visible light, X-rays, gamma and others, only that they have different properties and effect.

Radiologist Consultant at the Radiology Department of the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital Dr Nor Lenny binti Abdullah. PHOTO: SYAZWANI HJ ROSLI

According to her, there are two types of radiation – Non-Ionising Radiation which only causes a slight warming effect but not enough to cause long-term damage to tissues.

Some examples of non-ionising radiation are radio wave, visible light, infrared and microwave.

She added that the second type of radiation is ionising radiation which means it has enough energy to produce ionisation and can cause damage to biological tissues including effects on DNA and genetics.

Examples of ionising radiation are alpha, beta, X-ray and gamma.

Dr Nor Lenny emphasised that infrared belongs to the non-ionising radiation category, therefore the effect from the infrared is not as dangerous as X-rays.

It will not cause damage to tissues cells in the brain or eyes as stated in the viral message.

“The body temperature can be checked from several parts of our body such as the mouth, ears, armpits and rectum. It can also be checked from our foreheads. There are various types of thermometers in shops but for screening purpose, the most suitable and accurate one is the no contact type of thermometer (infrared thermometer.)

“The body temperature is more accurate when checked on the forehead,” she said.

“The public should not panic about the viral message.

“The infrared thermometer or the thermal gun does not produce radiation as in an X-ray equipment. It is safe for use,” Dr Nor Lenny said.

Therefore, the public is advised to not feel anxious of the false information.

The Ministry of Health would also like to remind the public to not be deceived and believe information or news spread on the Internet or social media without verification.

The public is advised to be more responsible and to not share information that had not been verified by MoH.

Spreading false news is an offence under the Public Order Act, Chapter 148, Section 34, which can lead to three months’ imprisonment or a BND3,000 fine.

The public can check the MoH website or contact the Health Advice Line at 2381380 or 2381383 or Darussalam hotline 123 for more information.