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Safety issue with laser pointers: when are they dangerous beyond expectations, and how to test that?

Posted August 19, 2018

The safety topic when talking about laser pointers is becoming a very serious discussion worldwide. This is fueled by the fact that the market is now offering lots of different modifications of these devices, often constructed using cheaper lower-grade optical components, or, what is quite possible, even without completing any safety-related product testing at all.

Image credit: Brainiac75 / YouTube screenshot

Laser pointers have never been completely ‘innocent’. The possibility of injury is possible not only when using powerful devices. A low-power light beam can be enough to cause eye damage. There is no question that lasers pointers that can burn paper, wood or even some metals (yes, its possible nowadays) has serious hazards associated with their use.

Some internet commentators claim that the actual power level of radiation emitted by a laser pointer may differ from its nominal (factory) rating by as much as tens of times. How about buying a laser pointer rated at 10mW, and receiving a monster firing a 330mW beam? It is surely a bad joke, especially for those who do not have specialist qualifications and equipment required to handle such type of product. But the sad part is that such things may happen.

While doing our own research on this topic, we spotted a video on Brainiac75 YouTube channel demonstrating some very interesting experiments using green laser pointers. As the authors of this video mention, not all laser pointers are created equally (safe) – there is a chance that such device could emit dangerous levels of invisible radiation.

So here is the video that shows how they tested some of the lasers available on the market, and how they made the invisible radiation visible:

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