The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday released a warning on thermal imaging systems used to measure body temperature during the pandemic.
The scanners, also referred to as thermal cameras and “fever cameras,” are used commonly in the lobbies of workplaces, schools and places of business as a quick, contact-less way to check body temperatures.
However, officials said, the scanners may provide inaccurate readings, and the FDA has issued several warning letters to some companies selling “unapproved, uncleared, and unauthorized” thermal imaging systems, including Certify Global Inc., Kogniz Inc., Opgal Optronic Industries Ltd. and Thermavis.
The scanner, which resembles a smart phone, reads a person’s skin surface temperature in seconds as they step up to it. If a person’s temperature is 100.4 degrees or greater, they are considered symptomatic.
When the device is designed and used correctly, it can be accurate, the FDA said. But even some authorized systems have produced inaccurate readings, which can be harmful if someone who has a fever is not alerted.
“These risks are more likely to be present where thermal imaging systems scan multiple individuals simultaneously,” the FDA said.
The FDA will work to provide information about the scanners to users and encourages people to keep wearing face masks, social distancing and maintaining hand hygiene. Stay home if you feel ill and consider taking your temperature with a thermometer before leaving home.