A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

Switzerland: Class 1 limit (0.39 mW) on sale, possession of laser pointers is proposed

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health on August 6 2018 issued a Draft Ordinance to the Federal Act on Protection Against Hazards Arising from Non-Ionising Radiation and Sound (O-NIRSA). This will prohibit the import, transit, supply and possession of laser pointers above Class 1 (0.39 milliwatt). The prohibition includes laser pointers of Class 1M, 2, 2M, 3R, 3B or 4.

According to FOPH, “An increasing number of laser pointers has been placed on the market that pose a danger to human health and to pilots or locomotive drivers. In order to avoid both dangerous glare and direct eye damage in the future, only class 1 lasers pointers will be allowed to be placed on the market.”

Comments are requested by October 5 2018. The proposed date of adoption is March 1 2019, and the proposed date of entry into force is January 1 2020.

The O-NIRSA draft ordinance is available in German, French and Italian. The current Federal Act on Protection Against Hazards Arising from Non-Ionising Radiation and Sound (NIRSA) is available in German, French (no link), Italian (no link) and English.

We were not able to find a link for the submission of comments; you may want to check with the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) and/or the Swiss Association for Standardization (SNV).

From an item in the August 2018 ESTA Standards Watch

Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: If adopted, a Class 1 limit would be the strictest in the world. There are many countries that have a Class 2 (1 milliwatt) limit on laser pointers, and some that have a slightly higher Class 3R limit (5 milliwatts).

For red laser pointers, Class 1 would make them barely visible under normal classroom or presentation scenarios. Because green light appears brighter to the human eye, a Class 1 laser pointer may be acceptable. However, LaserPointerSafety.com has never seen a Class 1 laser pointer.

US: FDA issues warning about laser toys

On November 24 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a “Consumer Update” warning of the dangers of laser toys.

FDA gave these examples of laser toys:
  • Lasers mounted on toy guns that can be used for “aiming”;
  • Spinning tops that project laser beams while they spin;
  • Hand-held lasers used during play as “light sabers”; and
  • Lasers intended for entertainment that create optical effects in an open room.

According to the Consumer Update, “Toys with lasers are of particular interest to the FDA because children can be injured by these products. Because they are marketed as toys, parents and kids alike may believe they’re safe to use.”

The FDA had tips for safe use, including:
  • Do not aim at persons or animals
  • Do not aim at any vehicle, aircraft or shiny surface; or persons playing sports
  • Children’s toy lasers should be Class I.
  • Children should not be allowed to own or use laser pointers. Pointers are not toys.
  • Do not buy or use any laser that emits more than 5 milliwatts.
  • See a health care professional in case of a known or suspected laser eye injury.

The FDA’s health warning was referenced in numerous news and publication sources over the 2017 holiday season.

From the FDA Consumer Update, “Laser Toys: How to Keep Kids Safe”. FDA also linked to a 2015 FDA YouTube video on laser pointer safety.

For background, LaserPointerSafety.com has a series of webpages about laser toys which begin with a summary
here.

US: Think Geek introduces toy shark with frickin' laser on its head

A toy shark with a Class 1 (less than 1 milliwatt) laser pointer attached to its head has been developed and marketed by Think Geek. The $15 novelty item was introduced around August 8 2013 by the Internet retailer of gadgets, toys, t-shirts and other items for “geeks”. Because the laser is Class 1, it appears to comply with the FDA’s proposed new guidelines for children’s toy laser products.

Think Geek shark with laser pointer


The gadget references the Austin Powers spy spoof movies. In 1997’s International Man of Mystery, the character Dr. Evil asks for “frickin’ sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads.” In 2002’s Goldmember, his son Scott actually develops the sharks:

Pic 2013-08-08 at 5.59.41 PM

From Think Geek by way of Gizmodo. See also our May 2012 story about a laser pointer attached to a (real) shark’s fin, done for publicity purposes.