Author: Niel Leon

FDA Points Out – Even Laser Pointers Present Dangers!

When purchasing potentially hazardous products, it is important to ensure that the device meets both your practical requirements and all necessary safety requirements. With the proliferation of lasers as tools and toys of everyday life, it is easy to forget that they present risks to users and others.

The Food and Drug Administration recently issued a consumer alert – Illuminating Facts About Laser Pointers, 13 June 2019. When using laser pointers, be sure to follow all recommended safety protocols, including (quoting the document):

  1. Never aim or shine a laser pointer at anyone.
  2. Don’t buy laser pointers for your children.
  3. Before purchasing a laser pointer, make sure it has the following information on the label:
    • a statement that it complies with Chapter 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations)
    • the manufacturer or distributor’s name and the date of manufacture
    • a warning to avoid exposure to laser radiation
    • the class designation, ranging from Class I to IIIa. Class IIIb and IV products should be used only by individuals with proper training and in applications where there is a legitimate need for these high-powered products.

Your source for assistance in selecting and reviewing laser(s) is your Laser Safety Advocate, Niel Leon, [email protected]

PS: Laser pointers are often overpowered, as this 3 August 2016 blog post notes. Niel can test your laser pointer(s) or other laser-containing device(s) to ensure that it can be safely used here at JHU.

Small Laser Controlled Area Improves Lab Utility and Reduces Costs.

The Lab Safety Advocate’s office recently worked with a research group that uses a large shared lab. A new laser instrument (a Raman spectroscope) required all in the lab to use very dark laser protective goggles in an already-dark room; this would have interfered with operations. We established a very small Laser Controlled Area that confined the laser beam and provided a dark environment to the experiment instead of the lab, improving the experimental results and allowing other experiments to take place unimpeded simultaneously in the lab. This saved about $2,000 in laser protective eyewear costs.