Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 13:20 EDT

Advisory – Hand-held Lasers or Laser Pointers May Cause Permanent Vision Damage and Burns

June 25, 2012

OTTAWA, June 25, 2012 /CNW/ -

The issue:

Health Canada is advising Canadians about the potential dangers related
to battery-operated hand-held lasers or laser pointers. Handheld
lasers, which may resemble pens or flashlights, are most commonly used
to point at objects in lectures or presentations, though they may also
be advertised for other uses. In particular, lasers that emit Class
3B/IIIb or 4/IV accessible radiation(1) have the potential to cause serious harm due to the intensity of the
radiation that they emit. They may also pose a fire hazard. Exposure to
a direct or reflected beam – even for a fraction of a second – may
cause permanent eye damage and burns. A controlled laser safety
environment and professional laser safety training are necessary for
the safe operation of Class 3B/IIIb and 4/IV lasers.

Health Canada reminds industry and Canadians that, under the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, it is prohibited to manufacture, import, advertise or sell any
consumer product that poses an unreasonable hazard(2) as a result of its normal or foreseeable use. Furthermore, under the Radiation Emitting Devices Act, it is prohibited to sell, lease or import into Canada a laser that
creates a risk to any person of genetic or personal injury, impairment
of health or death from radiation by reason of the fact that it either
does not perform according to the characteristics claimed for it, does
not accomplish its claimed purpose, or emits radiation that is not
necessary in order for it to accomplish its claimed purpose. Health
Canada will take appropriate action when non-compliant lasers are

To help reduce these potential health risks, battery-operated hand-held
lasers or laser pointers manufactured, advertised, sold, imported or
leased should be limited to the classification of Class 3R/IIIa or
less. Under the International Electrotechnical Commission Standard IEC
60825-1, laser products are categorized in the following order, from
the lowest to highest potential risk: Class 1, 1M, 2, 2M, 3R, 3B and 4.
Title 21 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1040.10 (21 CFR
1040.10), administered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
categorizes lasers in the following order, from the lowest to highest
potential risk: Class I, IIa, II, IIIa, IIIb, and IV.

    |Approximate IEC / FDA Equivalent Laser Classes|
    |                              Class           |
    |IEC|                             FDA          |
    | 1 |                                          |
    |___|                              I           |
    |1M |                                          |
    | 2 |                                          |
    |___|                          IIa, II         |
    |2M |                                          |
    |3R |                            IIIa          |
    |3B |                            IIIb          |
    | 4 |                              IV          |

* Data taken from the FDA publication Illuminating the Hazards of Powerful Laser Products

Users should look for appropriate warning labels, safety features and
instructions which explain how to properly handle the device. Users
should also look for the classification of a laser on the label and in
the instructions. If you are uncertain of a laser’s classification,
contact the manufacturer.

Manufacturers often classify laser products using an international
standard, such as the IEC Standard 60825-1 or the U.S. requirements set
out in 21 CFR 1040.10.

    |What consumers should do:                                          |
    |                                                                   |
    |    --  Never point a laser beam at anyone, and never look directly|
    |        into the beam yourself.                                    |
    |    --  If you are uncertain about the classification of a laser,  |
    |        contact the manufacturer or retailer.                      |
    |    --  Carefully read and follow all manufacturers' instructions. |

What Health Canada is doing:

Health Canada conducts market surveys on lasers and will continue to
work with industry and others to take appropriate action when
non-compliant lasers are found.

For more information:

Consumers, health professionals and suppliers of lasers wanting more
information about this advisory from Health Canada can contact the
Public Enquiries Line at 613-957-2991, or toll free at 1-866-225-0709.

Media enquiries related to this Advisory should be directed to Health
Canada Media Relations at 613-957-2983.

How to report problems with consumer products:

        --  Internet:
            Report an Incident Involving a Consumer Product
        --  Phone: 1-866-662-0666 (calls will be routed to closest regional
        --  Mail : Incident Report - Consumer Product Safety Directorate
            Health Canada
            123 Slater Street
            Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1A 0K9

Related Web content:

For more information on handheld lasers and laser pointers, see:

        --  Transport Canada, "Use Laser Pointers Safely and Legally"
        --  Canada's Air Force, "The Effects of Laser Pointers on Night Aviation"
        --  Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, "Lasers" web section
        --  U.S. Food and Drug Administration's laser safety notification
        --  U.S. Food and Drug Administration Consumer Updates: Illuminating the
             Hazards of Powerful Laser Products

For more information on the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act, see:

        --  Health Canada, "Consumer Product Safety"

Stay connected with Health Canada and receive the latest advisories and
product recalls using these social media tools: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/home-accueil/sm-ms/index-eng.php

(1) Radiation that is accessible to the user and/or bystander within the
exposure area of the laser.
(2) The Canada Consumer Product Safety Act defines a “danger to human health or safety” as “any unreasonable
hazard – existing or potential – that is posed by a consumer product
during or as a result of its normal or foreseeable use and that may
reasonably be expected to cause the death of an individual exposed to
it or have an adverse effect on that individual’s health – including
injury – whether or not the death or adverse effect occurs immediately
after the exposure to the hazard, and includes any exposure to a
consumer product that may reasonably be expected to have a chronic
adverse effect on human health.”


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SOURCE Health Canada

Source: PR Newswire