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Old 12-23-2013, 03:42 PM #1
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Default Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

So far in Dec. 2013 I have seen about 25 news reports warning consumers about laser toys, and how they have caused eye injuries. I was unaware of such toys or injuries, so I began researching this issue.

The results are at a page entitled "Are laser toys an actual hazard?" . There are additional pages, with details, that link from that starting page.

Here is a short summary:

I only found one toy for sale online that appears to contain a laser and which I would consider hazardous for children. It is the Glow Crazy Distance Doodler, which emits a 405 nm beam at 150 microwatts. That is 4 times over the IEC AEL limit for a 100 second exposure, which I have been told is the exposure duration class that would apply.

Glow Crazy claims the device inside is an LED, so if anyone here has taken apart their Distance Doodler, I'd be very interested in whether the light source is a laser or an LED.

Other than that toy, I only found two other types of laser-containing children's toys (a chess-like game, a spinning top). Both seemed safe upon examination, although the laser dreidel I received did not have FDA labeling or certification information and thus was non-compliant.

A search of medical reports and a decade of U.S. emergency room reports show no eye injuries, ever, from toys that contain lasers.

The problem seems to be that non-experts confuse standard general-purpose laser pointers with "toys". If a child aims a laser pointer into another child's eye, this is called "playing" and the pointer is labeled a "toy". A scientific paper is then written for a medical journal stating "Child injured by laser toy"; that is how this whole myth of dangerous laser toys got started.

My search was looking for lasers of any type (including pointers) which are marketed as "toys" or to children. My contention is that if a child misuses a standard laser pointer, it does not become a "toy", just like misusing a stick or screwdriver or knife does not make the object a "toy" or indicate it was marketed as a "toy".

Anyway, there is much more information about this issue starting with the referenced page.

And, if you know of any laser toys I missed, or any pointers or handhelds being marketed as "toys", please let me know. Thanks!

-- Patrick Murphy, LaserPointerSafety.com


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Old 12-23-2013, 11:37 PM #2
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Default Re: Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmurph5 View Post
So far in Dec. 2013 I have seen about 25 news reports warning consumers about laser toys, and how they have caused eye injuries. I was unaware of such toys or injuries, so I began researching this issue.

The results are at a page entitled "Are laser toys an actual hazard?" . There are additional pages, with details, that link from that starting page.

Here is a short summary:

I only found one toy for sale online that appears to contain a laser and which I would consider hazardous for children. It is the Glow Crazy Distance Doodler, which emits a 405 nm beam at 150 microwatts. That is 4 times over the IEC AEL limit for a 100 second exposure, which I have been told is the exposure duration class that would apply.

Glow Crazy claims the device inside is an LED, so if anyone here has taken apart their Distance Doodler, I'd be very interested in whether the light source is a laser or an LED.

Other than that toy, I only found two other types of laser-containing children's toys (a chess-like game, a spinning top). Both seemed safe upon examination, although the laser dreidel I received did not have FDA labeling or certification information and thus was non-compliant.

A search of medical reports and a decade of U.S. emergency room reports show no eye injuries, ever, from toys that contain lasers.

The problem seems to be that non-experts confuse standard general-purpose laser pointers with "toys". If a child aims a laser pointer into another child's eye, this is called "playing" and the pointer is labeled a "toy". A scientific paper is then written for a medical journal stating "Child injured by laser toy"; that is how this whole myth of dangerous laser toys got started.

My search was looking for lasers of any type (including pointers) which are marketed as "toys" or to children. My contention is that if a child misuses a standard laser pointer, it does not become a "toy", just like misusing a stick or screwdriver or knife does not make the object a "toy" or indicate it was marketed as a "toy".

Anyway, there is much more information about this issue starting with the referenced page.

And, if you know of any laser toys I missed, or any pointers or handhelds being marketed as "toys", please let me know. Thanks!

-- Patrick Murphy, LaserPointerSafety.com
If it truly is microwatts, instead of milliwatts, then that would be a very very tiny amount of power- I am not sure if that would even hardly be visible. Typo, maybe?
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Old 12-24-2013, 12:27 AM #3
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Default Re: Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

I was told by someone who tested it (with lab-quality equipment, not a Coherent LaserCheck!) that the bandwidth was about 2 nm and the total emitted power as collected for classification is 150uW.

They also said that the Class 1 AEL for 100 seconds is 39uW, under IEC 60825-1, and that is the classification (e.g., 100 seconds) that would apply.

I pass on this data and hope it answers your question.

BTW, I have a Glow Crazy Distance Doodler and hope to test it myself after the New Year with Greg Makhov from LSDI. Until then, the above is what I have been told.

Thanks!
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Old 12-24-2013, 01:30 AM #4
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Default Re: Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

well, if so, that is far too little power to do any harm to ones eyes
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Old 12-24-2013, 08:15 AM #5
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Default Re: Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

crazyspaz, that's not necessarily true. We know that 5mW is small enough to not harm your eyes after 0.25 seconds. My guess is that 39uW is the maximum exposure for 100 seconds, which is SIGNIFICANTLY longer than 0.25 seconds. Further, Patrick knows what he is talking about. He's one of the authorities on laser pointer safety.
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Old 12-24-2013, 05:31 PM #6
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Default Re: Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

I was talking about short periods of time, not 100 seconds. Still, would that not be essentially equal to looking at a dim LED?
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Old 12-24-2013, 05:57 PM #7
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Default Re: Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

He said that it was the limit for 100 seconds. And no, it would not be like looking at a dim LED. For one, our eyes perceive brightness as a square law: 4x more powerful is only twice as bright. Conversely, 150uW is slightly more than a third the brightness of a 1mW laser, which we all know is easily bright enough to see indoors.
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Old 01-02-2014, 04:20 PM #8
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Default Re: Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

I was told that the 100 second limit would apply to this toy. Frankly, I am not sure why. My main expertise is with the "aversion response" limits that apply when an exposure is strong enough to trigger a person to blink, look away from the light, etc. These are for a 1/4 second exposure.

The person who said the 100 second limit applies is an expert in this area, so I trust that this statement is true.

I will say that for visible light, thermal damage builds up over time. It is like putting your hand over a candle flame. You can wave your hand right through the flame (1/4 sec. exposure) with no adverse effects. But if you hold your hand a foot or two over the flame for 100 seconds, bad things might happen!
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Old 01-02-2014, 06:37 PM #9
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Default Re: Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

Kids are dumb. While I don't like to admit to it, when I was a dumb child, I stared into my first laser pointer, just to see how long I could possibly stare into it. No reason behind it at all. I probably stopped staring into it only out of boredom, so there wasn't any overwhelming involuntary reflex or noticeable pain or discomfort.

So, yeah, for a kid's toy, may be more important to keep levels even lower than your typical <5mW limit. I don't know what the physiological response to a 150uW 100s exposure in the same spot, but I would guess that the limits are based on how quickly the exposed tissue can disperse the heat before it builds up to a damaging level. Or something like that.
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Old 01-02-2014, 07:21 PM #10
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Default Re: Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

It seems like the sometimes media invents flashy headlines based solely on focus group studies or words that have been proven to generate interest. I can see the brain storming session now. Hmm, "Lasers" are still mysterious to most people. "Hazard" is always a good word to catch attention. Mix in "Toys" and you got a news headline that puts itself together this time of year. Who cares about the truth or who's hobbies/businesses it will impact.

Then other media see the story and replicate it.

Last edited by ImA4Wheelr; 01-02-2014 at 07:23 PM.
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Old 01-02-2014, 10:09 PM #11
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Default Re: Dec 2013 news reports about laser toy hazards

BShanahan14rulz, I think you have it there. The 100 second standard is for situations where a person might look into a dim light, and the bright-light aversion reflex does not kick in. This might be an occupational exposure (for example, using a laser for alignment tasks) or in this case, exposure to people like kids who don't know better about looking into the light.
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