Consumer Product Safety

Accident Information Special News 27

April 13, 2000

Trial Purchase Test Results of "Laser Pointer"

Based on the accident information related to the laser pointer occurred in November 1998, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry has called the attentions of the danger (Refer to Accident Information Special News No.24 as of November 2, 1998). Then, the said Ministry has also informed to plan a trial purchase test of the appropriate products on the market distribution for investigating the practical states from the next fiscal year. The article tests of the "laser pointer" related to its quality and safety were completed so that from the viewpoint of contributing to the reoccurrence prevention of the accident, the outlines of the results are provided here.

1. Test Article

The laser pointer is originally used for an indicator in using an OHP and the like and among them are a pen type and a key holder type.
The laser beam has high energy density so as to have a possibility of hurting the eyes and the skin according the intensity of the beam. When the laser beam is incident on the eye, it is converged by the cornea and the crystalline lens and reached the fundus oculi so that it easily causes the injury. Therefore, the field survey of the safety in particular was performed.

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2. Tested Articles

On the safety of the laser products, there is JIS C 6802, "the Safety Radiation Standard for Laser Products" in which the products are classified into 5 stages of class 1, 2, 3A, 3B and 4 according to the risk. When the number of the class increases, the risk becomes higher and the details are explained in Table 1-1. There are some foreign countries also prescribing "the Safety Radiation Standard for Laser Products" and we introduce here an example of the USA in Table 1-2.

Table 1-1 Risk of Laser Beam (JIS)
Class 1 It is safe under the rationally predictable operation conditions.
Class 2 It emits visible radiation within the range of wavelength 400nm - 700nm.The eyes are generally protected by the aversion reactions including the blinking reaction.
Class 3A It is safe to observe it by the naked eyes.The eyes are protected from the laser emitted within the range of wavelength 400nm - 700nm by the aversion reactions including the blinking reaction.To the wavelengths other than that, the risk to the naked eyes is not so large as Class 1.However, the direct beam inside observation state (directly observing the beam or specular reflection beam) by an optical means (microscope, etc.) is dangerous.
Class 3B The direct beam inside observation is dangerous at all times.
The observation of the diffuse reflection is generally safe.
Class 4 It has a capacity emitting the dangerous diffuse reflection.The beams cause the dermatopathy or have danger to cause a fire.Have to pay close attention in using them.
Table 1-2 Risk of Laser Beam (FDA)
Class I Those not dangerous
Class IIa
     
It is not dangerous when observing for 1x 103second or less, however, it is dangerous when chronically observing for a time longer than 1x 103 second.
Class II The long-time observation is dangerous.
Class IIIa Depending on the irradiance, both of the strong beams inside observation and the long-time observation are dangerous.If directly observing it by an optical device, the observation under the strong beam is dangerous.
Class IIIb When directly irradiated, it becomes seriously dangerous for the skin and the eyes.
Class IV Both of the direct radiation and diffuse radiation are dangerous for the skin and the eyes.
Table 2 List of Tested Article
Sample

No.
Voltage [V]

(Batteries Used)
Safety

Labeling, Etc.
Labeling of

Class*4
Purchase Price

(yen)

Country of Origin
 
Date of

Purchase

1
4.5

(LR44 x 3 pieces)
CE*1

FDA*2
Class IIIA
3,580

No description
November 1998

2
 
4.5

(LR41 x 3 pieces)
CE  GS*3

FDA
Class IIIA
2,980  

No description  

3
 
4.5

(LR44 x 3 pieces)
CE

FDA
Class IIIA  
5,480
 

No description
 

4
 
3.0

(size AAAA x 2 pieces)

Nothing  

Class 2
 

8,800
 

Vietnam
 

5
 
4.5

(LR44 x 3 pieces)

Nothing  
Class IIIA  
3,980
 

No description
 

6
 
6.0

(LR44 x 4 pieces)

Nothing  

Class IIIA
 

4,450
 

China
 

7
 
6.0

(LR41 x 4 pieces)
CE  GS

EMC

Class IIIA
 

3,280
 

Taiwan
 

8
 
1.5

(size AAA x 1 piece)
CE  GS

FDA

Class IIIA
 

2,980
 

No description
 

9
 
4.5

(LR44 x 3 pieces)
CE  GS

FDA  EMC

Class IIIA
 

2,980
 

Taiwan
 

10
 
4.5

(LR44 x 3 pieces)
CE

FDA

Class IIIA
 

3,950
 

No description
 

11
 
3.0

(size AAA x 2 pieces)
CE  GS

FDA

Class IIIA
 

3,250
 

No description
 

12
 
3.0

(size AAA x 2 pieces)

FDA
 

Class IIIA
 

4,180
 

China
 

13
 
3.0

(CR2 x 1 piece)
CE

FDA

Class IIIA
 

9,800
 

Taiwan
 

14
4.5

(LR44 x 3 pieces)

Nothing  

Class IIIA
 

4,500
 

Taiwan
 
*1CE:
Labeling of electromagnetic compatibility in CE marking system in EU.
*2FDA:
Labeling of compatibility of Food and Drug Administration of USA.
*3GS:
Product Safety Mark of Germany
*4Labeling of Class:
Samples No.1 - 3 and 5 - 14 have the labeling of the class based on the FDA standards. Sample No. 4 has the labeling of the class based on JIS standards.

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3. Test Items, Methods, and Results

3.1 Structure of Switch

All the samples are easily operated, when pushing down a switch, the laser beam is irradiated and when releasing the finger from the switch, the irradiation is stopped.

3.2 Evaluation of Laser Radiation

The laser radiations are classified by measuring (1) wavelength, (2) radiation power, and (3) irradiance based on JIS.

Table 3 Laser Radiation Measurement Results and Classification
Sample No.
 
Wavelength
[nm]
Radiation Power (P) [mW] Irradiance (E)
[W/m2]
Results
(JIS)
Labeling
(Re-expression of Table 2)
1 656 4.99 131 Class 3B Class IIIA
2 649 4.26 121 Class 3B Class IIIA
3 654 0.870 23.2 Class 2 Class IIIA
4 637 0.914 23.3 Class 2 Class 2
5 650 3.99 108 Class 3B Class IIIA
6 676 3.06 82.5 Class 3B Class IIIA
7 655 3.98 108 Class 3B Class IIIA
8 676 2.78 76.7 Class 3B Class IIIA
9 658 1.64 53.7 Class 3B Class IIIA
10 654 3.82 104 Class 3B Class IIIA
11 648 5.19 138 Class 3B Class IIIA
12 654 1.75 48.7 Class 3B Class IIIA
13 635 4.79 129 Class 3B Class IIIA
14 656 4.73 127 Class 3B Class IIIA

3.3 Attenuation of Radiation Power

The radiation powers were measured, when the distances from the Sample are 1m, 10m, 20, and 30m respectively. Even if it is 30m apart, it has the radiation power exceeding the power of 1mW (standard value of the Class 2).

3.4 Measurement of Reflected Light

The reflectances of the laser beams against the mirror are high, 65 - 93% in every angle.

3.5 Practicality as Indicators

As a result of the practical utilization tests as the indicators, there are no differences between the Class 2 and the Class 3B as the indicator in particular and even the products of the Class 2 has no problem in its utilization.

3.6 Warning label and Instructions

  1. (1) Warning label
    The warning labels in Japanese were attached to 8 Samples, however, they were not attached to the body in 6 Samples among them and it seems that the purchaser himself is required to attach the enclosed warning label to the body. The residual 6 Samples have the English warning labels attached thereto. The warning labels have forms in compliance with FDA and JIS standards and describe the attentions, wavelength, output, and class.
  2. (2) Attentions in Instructions
    The handling attentions in Japanese and English are attached to the 11 Samples and the 3 Samples respectively.

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4. Summary

  1. (1) Risk of Laser Beam
    When the laser beams were classified according to JIS, 12 Samples out of 14 Samples were Class 3B products and 2 Samples were Class 2 products. According to the guideline of JIS, the Class 3B products have the risk of hurting the retina, when the beam directly enters into the eyes.
    There are expressions based on JIS and the expressions based on FDA mixed in the test products. It is necessary to give the right information to the users. (As for the risk of the laser beams, refer to Table 1.)
  2. (2) Warning Label and Instructions
    The general users do not have sufficient recognition of the risk of the laser beam so that to prevent the accident from occurring, the warning label and instructions in Japanese shall be surely attached to the pointer and the attentions shall be described as practically as possible.
  3. (3) Structure of Irradiation Switch
    All the Samples have such structures that, when pushing down the switch, the laser beam is irradiated and, when releasing the fingers therefrom, the radiation is stopped. However, using this switch, even a child can easily irradiate it so that it is necessary to add the attention saying, not to let a child touch it.

Contact us

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Phone number:+81-6-6612-2066
Fax number:+81-6-6612-1617
Address:1-22-16, Nankokita, Suminoe-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 559-0034 Japan MAP