At LASER Classroom™, we are fully committed to the safety and compliance of our laser products. We work only with the most reputable manufacturers, with whom we have had relationships for more than 10 years in the laser pointers business. These manufacturers conduct extensive safety testing for both power output and IR filter placement. We receive the data at our warehouse in Winona, MN where our staff conducts spot testing on each shipment received to ensure continued compliance. LASER Classroom™ guarantees that our green laser pointers are fully compliant with all FDA safety regulations.
A report was issued recently (March 20, 2013) by the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) that found 90% of the green laser pointers tested to be out of compliance with FDA Safety Regulations. Where you purchase your laser products for the classroom matters.
A green laser pointer may be out of compliance with FDA Safety Regulations for one or both of the following reasons:
- The power output of the green laser pointer is greater than the output printed on the safety label (either <1mW for class II laser pointers or <5mW for class IIIa laser pointers)
- The green laser pointer emits non-visible 808nm infrared light
A label can only be trusted if the company you’re purchasing from can be trusted
Power output limits are established, in part, by the speed of the “look away reflex”. At less than 5mW of power output – the legal limit for ALL laser pointers – the eye will reflexively look away from the laser quickly enough to prevent accidental damage. Like other science lab equipment, safety compliant laser pointers must still be used with care and discretion; however, this power output limit protects against accidental harm. Class II laser pointers like our super safe green laser pointer or super safe green LASER Blox™, are limited to <1mW and are preferred by many schools, teachers and parents.
Infra red light (808nm) is pumped through a medium to create a green laser pointer. Is IR light is not visible, so there is no point at which the look away reflex can offer protection prior to injury. If a green laser pointer emits 808nm infra red light, it is not safe. LASER Classroom’s™ green laser pointers and LASER Blox™ are made with an IR filter which ensures that no IR escapes. Many of the 90% of green laser pointers tested by the NIST either do not contain a filter or contain a filter that is not fitted properly and allows leakage of IR 808nm laser light.
Essential Laser Safety Information
Most people are a little surprised to learn that all laser products, are regulated by the Food and Drug Administrations’ Department of Radiological Health and are governed by specific rules and regulations listed in the Code of Federal Regulations, 21 CFR 1040.10 and 1040.11. We work very closely with the FDA and ANSI to ensure that our laser products are in total compliance with all regulations.
Used responsibly, FDA approved lasers are extremely safe for use by adults and students under supervision in a classroom or laboratory setting.
The FDA classifies Lasers into several broad areas depending on the potential for causing biological damage. When you see a laser, it should be labeled with one of these class designations:
- Class I – These lasers emit laser radiation below known hazard levels.
- Class I.A. – This is a special designation that applies only to lasers that are “not intended for viewing,” such as a
supermarket laser scanner. The upper power limit of Class I.A. is 4.0 mW.
- Class II – These are low-power visible lasers that emit above Class I levels but at a radiant power not above 1 mW.
Class II lasers are considered safe for use in classroom or other sensitive environments because a this low power, the eye’s natural “look away” response is sufficient to protect from otherwise possible harm.
- Class IIIA – Lasers with a power output of between 1mW and 5mW can be hazardous only for intrabeam viewing
– meaning if you point the beam directly into your eye, you can cause damage. Barring irresponsible use, class IIIA lasers are considered safe and the majority of pen-like pointing lasers, including those used for star pointing, are in this class.
- Class IIIB – These are moderate-power lasers.
- Class IV – These are high-power lasers (cw: 500 mW, pulsed: 10 J/cm2 or the diffuse reflection limit), which are
hazardous to view under any condition (directly or diffusely scattered), and are a potential fire hazard and a skin hazard. Significant controls are required of Class IV laser facilities.
To read more about the FDA’s regulations regarding lasers and laser pointers.
For more information and a fantastic video about the safe use of laser pointers as regards aircraft and the FAA .