Infrared radiant heating panels are being promoted aggressively recently. Marketeers say about these device that they represent a safe way to reduce the heating bill. Some will go one step further and say that they have “miraculous therapeutic effects”. Of course, all these alleged health benefits does not have a reputable scientific study to back the claims but hey… if it is cheap and it works, people will buy them regardless. Among the alleged “therapeutic effects” we find expressions like “improving blood circulation”, “relieving rheumatic pain”, “removing heavy metals from the body,” “slowing down aging” “improving vision” and many others. But what are these assertions based on and how real are the positive health effects?
Are infrared radiant heating panels beneficial to health?
Before answering the question, I should explain the basic principle for these panels. An infrared radiant heating panel bounces infrared rays around the room, heating the objects they come into contact with, including objects and people. Everything starts from the statement that radiant panels emit radiation similar to that produced by the Sun. In other words, they are supposed to offer “natural” heating. But the Sun does not only emit radiation in the infrared spectrum but a whole range of electromagnetic waves, and the benefits associated with exposure to the Sun are not due exclusively associated to one of them.
In fact, the study by researchers at Edinburgh and Southampton universities claim that exposure to sunlight could help lower blood pressure, highlighting ultraviolet radiation as beneficial, with only heat exposure not having a positive influence. The conclusions are based on examining the effects of 20 minute session exposure to sun. Minor risks of prolonged exposure to the Sun are quite obvious to all those who stayed at the beach more than they should have been, and one of the major risks is skin cancer.
With regard to the claims on “improving rheumatic pain”, these claims are based on a study that was focused on the influence of infrared saunas on patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Overlooking the fact that the study was funded by the company selling saunas, the lack of side effects is valid for exposure to 30 minutes twice a week for four weeks.
Infrared radiation has negative effects on the human body
Prolonged exposure to infrared radiation has more negative effects, highlighted by scientific studies. Thus, research on “Effects of Infrared Radiation and Heat on Human Skin Aging” analyzed the effects of infrared radiation on the skin and concluded that they contribute to premature aging of the epidermis. The results were confirmed by further studies, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
The International Commission on Non-ionized Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has drawn attention since 2006 that prolonged exposure to infrared radiation may cause corneal damage due to excessive heating. The effects of various types of radiation on vision are detailed in an article published by Optometry Today, and NASA and other organizations have explained several times how infrared radiation can permanently affect the retina when looking at a Sun eclipse without protecting the eyes with special glasses.
Infrared radiant heating panels: Final conclusion
Although near infrared medical laser devices have been used in tests to remove cancerous tumors, it does not mean that the infrared rays that are reflected through the room can prevent cancer. Radiant panels were used for industrial heating, and the overall conclusion of these studies would be that they should remain in that area. Until new research to show any potential health benefit, radiant panels remain a legally unregulated business. Distributors can say anything without providing a study to back the claims. You should be informed if you decide to buy such a radiant panel.