Do Infrared Thermometers Detect Accurate Temperatures on Humans?

It has been said that desperate times call for drastic measures. However, when faced with a crisis, it is imperative to ensure that measures taken are appropriate and effective for the challenge at hand.


In an effort to help stem the spread of coronavirus, many people have been using non-contact infrared thermometers to determine human body temperature.  Often, the chosen instruments are industrial grade devices which are unreliable for human body temperature measurement.


Unlike infrared thermometers that are designed for medical use, industrial grade instruments can vary as much as 7.2 Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) degrees from a target's actual temperature.  In other words, using an industrial grade instrument on a person with a normal body temperature could yield temperature values ranging from 91.4°F (33°C) to 105.8°F (41°C).  Inaccuracy aside, the greatest risk in using industrial grade instruments is missing feverish persons who could infect others.


When using infrared thermometers on humans, one should only use medical grade instruments that have been certified for such use.  These instruments are far more accurate and will provide temperature values that are acceptably close to body core temperature.  For those electing to use infrared thermometers, we strongly encourage them to be trained in the proper use of their chosen equipment.


Thank you to all involved in treating the sick and helping to control the spread of COVID-19.  For those who are ill, we wish you a full and speedy recovery.