Old 05-06-2009, 12:03 PM #1
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Question FDA and Laser Hobiest?

With all of these recent FDA letters that are being sent to people, should the everyday hobiest in the USA be worried?

I understand that a lot of these letters have been fake, but to me it has been made clear that the FDA is aware of this site. Is it possible that they could start coming after us or is it just the people who sell their lasers that should worry?

I appreciate any input on this topic.


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Old 05-06-2009, 12:17 PM #2
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What "other" FDA letters are you talking about?

As far as I know, there were two. The first was the fake email Day got and the second was the real letter that Mohrenberg received.

The FDA is mostly interested in stopping unlawful sales of lasers. It is the job of US Customs to watch incoming packages to make sure that they do not contain illegal pointers. And it is the FDA's job also to to ensure that illegal pointers aren't being sold from within the US.

If you are buying lasers from other countries and customs sees that they do not possess FDA accession numbers, then you are breaking the law. If you get caught, then I believe there is a warning first and then a fine for subsequent occurrences. I don't remember specifically, though.

I don't think the FDA will come after you if you already own pointers without accession numbers. I've seen some of the pointers that my professors use. Some of them definitely don't belong here.
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Old 05-06-2009, 12:24 PM #3
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Well if there is a fine, then I maybe in for one now. I have had one laser taken by customs. It has been a year since then. I recently just bought another laser and I think this one is going to be taken as well for it has been sitting in customs for over a week.
Is there anyone on here that can confirm wheather or not I will get a fine?


There have been other letters, but they where in the form of an email.
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:30 PM #4
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I know I may seem impatient by posting again, but I am really worried now about the potential of being fined. Does anyone know of this to be true?
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:41 PM #5
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Did you receive a warning letter when your lasers were confiscated a year ago from customs....? If not then I would say that you should be fine and if this one gets taken also then you should get the warning letter (but not the fine) The fine comes after the warning letter----Correct me if I am wrong but Im prety sure that that is how they work.
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:46 PM #6
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I received a letter stating that my product was taken by customs and that if I wanted to claim it, I would have to pay a fee and also show documented proof that it was legal for me to import that item.

It also said that if I simply did nothing, then the usa government would claim it and likely destroy it.

So if my new laser doesn't make it through customs, then what kind of fines could I be looking at?
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Old 05-06-2009, 01:52 PM #7
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In that letter you received it should have mentioned something like "second offense is up to $500 or bla...bla...bla"

I wish I could be more help to you but I have never received the letter that you did...I have had some confiscated but for some reason never got the letter.

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Old 05-06-2009, 01:53 PM #8
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You won't be getting fined because your laser is confiscated. While there are several reasons why you won't get fined, one of the biggest is that you are "small fish" so to speak. The US government does not care about laser hobbyists. They care about people who sell lasers, which takes you out of the realm of hobbyist and into the realm of businessman. If you intend do run a business as a distributor of lasers, there are many hoops you'll need to jump through.

It is technically illegal to import lasers over 5mW, but the FDA and customs are much more worried about the source than they are you, the end user.
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:07 PM #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElektroFreak View Post
You won't be getting fined because your laser is confiscated. While there are several reasons why you won't get fined, one of the biggest is that you are "small fish" so to speak. The US government does not care about laser hobbyists. They care about people who sell lasers, which takes you out of the realm of hobbyist and into the realm of businessman. If you intend do run a business as a distributor of lasers, there are many hoops you'll need to jump through.

It is technically illegal to import lasers over 5mW, but the FDA and customs are much more worried about the source than they are you, the end user.
Well from everything that has been said on here, this makes me feel better. I can't afford a fine and to be honest, if I knew that there was a risk of being fined, I never would have boughten the laser.

I honestly don't know if it is still at customs due to the fact that USPS tracking is horendous for being wrong. In fact, there isn't anything that even says that usa customs has recieved it.

Typically when things are shipped from China to my house, it takes 12 days. Lets just say today is day 12. I hope it's in my mailbox when I get home from work.
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:33 PM #10
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Iskor - you're right about the horrendous tracking, but if it eases your mind at all I have had shipments read "recieved by Customs" and stay at that status for a few days, in fact I even had one that I had given up on because it read that Customs had it for like 5 days, then all of a sudden there was the mailman looking for a signature...

And don't forget, "Typical" and "China" are words that really shouldn't occupy the same sentence!
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Old 05-06-2009, 02:35 PM #11
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Quote:
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And don't forget, "Typical" and "China" are words that really shouldn't occupy the same sentence!
Hahahaa...Your right.
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Old 05-06-2009, 04:29 PM #12
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The FDA will not bother you if you order something from overseas and it fails to meet import requirements. They will seize and destroy it (customs will). As a purchaser you would have a tough time knowing that a system does or does not have an accession number so they won't generally do anything.

If you build and sell, or resell imported laser systems that do not meet import requirements you in essence become the manufacturer as it now falls on your shoulders to complete all necessary documentation with the FDA for sales in the U.S. As most home built pointers and almost all foreign built pointers do not meet FDA requirements due to most of them being Class IIIb without required safety features the FDA will not approve such sales in the U.S. That's when the investigations and fines begin.

As a hobbyist, you can build laser systems to your heart's content and the FDA will not bother you at all as long as you don't sell the systems you build, use them in a public lightshow, or use them for a medical purpose. At this point it is the local constabulary that my regulate the use of the home built laser. Most locales have no restrictions on building systems. Laws generally govern how these systems may be used outside.

So who has jurisdiction over what? Generally this is the breakdown:

Importation - U.S. Customs/FDA
Sales - FDA and State Environmental Health (medical use, etc.)
Light Shows - FDA, local constabulary
Over the horizon, outside use - FAA, local constabulary
Under the horizon, outside use - local constabulary
Laser injuries - State Safety/OSHA/FDA
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Old 05-07-2009, 03:23 AM #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrothyChimp View Post
The FDA will not bother you if you order something from overseas and it fails to meet import requirements. They will seize and destroy it (customs will). As a purchaser you would have a tough time knowing that a system does or does not have an accession number so they won't generally do anything.

If you build and sell, or resell imported laser systems that do not meet import requirements you in essence become the manufacturer as it now falls on your shoulders to complete all necessary documentation with the FDA for sales in the U.S. As most home built pointers and almost all foreign built pointers do not meet FDA requirements due to most of them being Class IIIb without required safety features the FDA will not approve such sales in the U.S. That's when the investigations and fines begin.

As a hobbyist, you can build laser systems to your heart's content and the FDA will not bother you at all as long as you don't sell the systems you build, use them in a public lightshow, or use them for a medical purpose. At this point it is the local constabulary that my regulate the use of the home built laser. Most locales have no restrictions on building systems. Laws generally govern how these systems may be used outside.

So who has jurisdiction over what? Generally this is the breakdown:

Importation - U.S. Customs/FDA
Sales - FDA and State Environmental Health (medical use, etc.)
Light Shows - FDA, local constabulary
Over the horizon, outside use - FAA, local constabulary
Under the horizon, outside use - local constabulary
Laser injuries - State Safety/OSHA/FDA
Thank you for your input.
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Old 05-07-2009, 10:27 PM #14
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thanks frothy. i looked for weeks to find that answer. if you do leave, i want to say thanks for helping with sharing the knowledge you have/had.

now on to the next project!
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Old 05-07-2009, 10:32 PM #15
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all that needs to be said is, if anyone is really a hobbyist then they know of all the dangers that are brought on with lasers, they all have proper protection, and they all use their lasers safely and in safe/contained enviorments.

if you cant atleast follow the simplest safety steps, such as dont point it at peoples faces or people in general etc. etc, the you shouldnt be using lasers period
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Old 05-07-2009, 10:43 PM #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iskor12 View Post
Well from everything that has been said on here, this makes me feel better. I can't afford a fine and to be honest, if I knew that there was a risk of being fined, I never would have boughten the laser.

I honestly don't know if it is still at customs due to the fact that USPS tracking is horendous for being wrong. In fact, there isn't anything that even says that usa customs has recieved it.

Typically when things are shipped from China to my house, it takes 12 days. Lets just say today is day 12. I hope it's in my mailbox when I get home from work.
This really made my day.

You know it's illegal to import them, but you didn't know you could be punished? What fantasy country do you live in? normally breaking laws is punished, especially when you get caught >.>

Ofc the risk is not so big when it comes to lasers but don't say you didn't know there was a risk at all
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