In this article, I respond to common questions regarding infrared heaters and our health.
Do infrared heaters emit radiation?
Infrared heaters emit far-infrared radiation. This type of radiation is part of the spectrum of infrared radiation which includes near-infrared, mid-infrared, and far-infrared. Far-infrared radiation is felt as warmth, similar to the sun’s heat, and is a healthful and harmless type of radiation.
Radiation does not equal harmful
Although infrared heaters emit infrared radiation, that does not mean they are dangerous or harmful in any way. Not every type of radiation is harmful to our health. In fact, far-infrared radiation emitted by household infrared heaters is beneficial to our health.
There are many types of radiation including UV, visible light, radio waves, microwave, and infrared. Some are well known because they are potentially harmful. A good example is UV radiation. UV radiation’s harmfulness depends on the intensity of exposure as well as how long you were exposed.
However, far-infrared coming from infrared heaters is not harmful in any way.
Do infrared heaters cause cancer?
Infrared heaters do not cause cancer. Unlike the sun, which emits many types of radiation including harmful UV light, infrared heaters only emit far-infrared. Far-infrared is completely harmless. Therefore, infrared heaters do not increase your chances of getting skin- or any other type of cancer.
Since infrared heating is often compared to sun-like heating, cancer concerns are understandable. However, the sun emits all kinds of radiation including UV, visible light, far- and near-infrared, and X-rays. Some of which are harmful for us.
HOwever, infrared heaters only emit a small portion of the infrared spectrum of radiation. This portion, called far-infrared, is the warmth that you feel from the sun without any other potentially harmful types of radiation. Far-infrared is completely harmless.
Near-infrared is a completely different type of radiation that is still considered infrared (just like red is completely different from blue while still being considered a color). This type of radiation actually has a range itself where one version of it is more harmful than the other.
All near-infrared can be harmful to humans when we are exposed to it for longer periods of time. Examples are sun exposure (sunburn occurs when the sun is intense and we expose ourselves for a long time), or industrial lasers.
Infrared heaters emit harmless, healthful far infrared. Some emit a very small amount of mid- or near-infrared. This amount is so small that it is not harmful in any way.
Can infrared heaters cause sunburn?
Infrared heaters cannot cause sunburn. Sunburn is caused by UV light: a type of radiation different from infrared. Infrared heaters only emit far infrared, which does not cause sunburn or even a tan. The sun emits both infrared and UV light. Therefore, the sun can cause a tan or burn while infrared heaters cannot.
Sunburn is caused by long-term exposure to intense UV light. This normally comes from the sun and is especially dangerous on a very hot day. The sun emits all kinds of radiation including UV and infrared.
Infrared radiation is felt like warmth and is also emitted by infrared heaters. UV light can cause sunburn and is more intense when infrared from the sun is also more intense. Since infrared heaters do not emit any UV they cannot cause sunburn or a tan.
Can infrared heaters cause headaches?
A headache can have many causes, including dehydration. Infrared heaters, like any heater, provide heating. Therefore, they can increase sweating and lead to mild dehydration if insufficient water is consumed. Infrared heaters, however, do not lower air moisture or emit air pollutants. Therefore, they have a lower chance of causing a headache compared to conventional air-heating systems.
Headaches can be caused by many factors including:
- lack of sleep
- poor diet (low consumption of fruits and vegetables)
- poor air quality
Are infrared heaters dangerous to our eyes?
Infrared heaters are not dangerous to our eyes. Infrared heaters emit only far-infrared, which is completely harmless. Some industrial infrared heaters emit near-infrared. This type of infrared can be harmful to the eyes. Therefore, workers wear protective equipment such as protective glasses. Infrared heaters for household use such as quartz heaters or infrared panels only emit healthy far-infrared.
Can infrared heaters cause health problems?
Household infrared heaters such as quartz heaters or infrared heating panels do not cause health problems. They emit healthful warming far-infrared radiation that can improve your health by improving air quality. This warmth is similar to the heat from the sun. However, the sun also emits other types of radiation including UV light, which is harmful to our health.
Infrared heaters do not emit any other radiation than healthful far-infrared and therefore do not cause health problems. Industrial infrared heaters can emit near-infrared radiation. This type of infrared can be dangerous to our eyes and skin. Therefore, workers wear protective clothing and glasses.
Infrared heaters are beneficial for your health
Infrared heaters have several advantages compared to conventional heaters, making them more healthful. These advantages include:
- not drying the air
- not causing air circulation (thus improving indoor air quality)
- not emitting any harmful compounds (improving air quality)
I wrote another article focused on health and safety of infrared heaters, including safe usage and installation practices, and which infrared heaters are less safe. You can find it here: