Random testing reveals excessive power in commercial laser pointers

Published: May 01, 2013


Joshua A. Hadler, Edna L. Tobares, Marla L. Dowell


In random testing of 122 commercial laser pointers, we observed that 89.7 % of green pointers and 44.4 % of red pointers were not in compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations, producing laser power in excess of the Accessible Emission Limit at one or more laser wavelengths. The Code of Federal Regulations, treated by the U.S. courts as legally binding, requires that the laser emission from products sold as laser pointers for demonstration purposes be limited to Class 3R (5 mW maximum emission in in the visible portion of the spectrum (400 to 700 nm wavelength); the Class 1 Accessible Emission Limit in the infrared spectrum ( > 700 nm) is the defacto limit for all laser pointers. The Class 1 AEL in the IR is a function of laser wavelength, and is always considerably less than the Class 3R limit in the visible. The measurement results are presented. In addition, we briefly describe an inexpensive test bed as well as physical mechanisms that could account for hazardous levels of laser pointer emissions.
Citation: Journal of Laser Applications
Volume: 25
Issue: 3
Pub Type: Journals


laser metrology, laser safety, laser pointer
Created May 01, 2013, Updated November 10, 2018