Rumor has it that, at one time, laser pointers were used by presenters to point out important information on blackboards and such. Of course, the more common usages of these devices now are confusing cats and annoying movie theater patrons. Some have been developed that can cause permanent blindness and instantly set fire to skin, but these are the exception, not the rule.
That’s why it’s particularly surprising to discover that the majority of laser pointers exceed the power level limits that were determined by the Code of Federal Regulations.
In the world of owning laser pointers, having the most powerful one is certainly exciting, though you can be almost assured it’s illegal. The legal cap is 5 milliwatts. Anything beyond that is technically not a laser pointer.
The study, conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, found that only 26 percent of the tested laser pointers were within industry standard strength. And those cool green ones? Yeah, 90 percent of those weren’t in compliance with regulations. And only 44 percent of the red ones weren’t.
Why does it matter? Because these things can literally destroy eyesight. Not to mention the many illegal usages for them. This past year, President Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, at which point it became illegal to shine a laser beam at or in the path of a aircraft.
The point? Be careful with that innocuous little device, and use them mainly for PowerPoint presentations and annoying your cat.