It’s likely that you got a laser pointer for entertainment and are considering disposing of it since you have had your fill. However, have you thought about how you will do it? If you didn’t already know, you can’t dispose of laser pointers by throwing them in the bin as that’s dangerous.
You’ll need a good guide on how to dispose of laser pointers to manage it safely, and that’s precisely why we have written this comprehensive article.
- Why You Need to be Careful When Disposing of Laser Pointers
- What Makes Laser Pointers Dangerous?
- How to Dispose of Laser Pointers
- Other Steps You Can Take to Increase Safety
- Can the Damage Caused by Laser Pointers be Treated?
Why You Need to be Careful When Disposing of Laser Pointers
Laser pointers are fascinating yet dangerous, even at smaller wavelengths. Laser pointers are known for their destructive capabilities and have led to permanent eye damage for people in and outside the US.
Their impact has also not gone unnoticed. Switzerland has banned the use of most laser pointers and moved forward with a regulation that made it mandatory for citizens to dispose of the ones it deemed too dangerous.
FDA has also banned the commercial distribution of laser pointers with a power source higher than 5mW to ensure the product was relatively safe for keeping around the house.
What Makes Laser Pointers Dangerous?
You may be wondering why a light source with 5mW is a reason for concern. The reason laser pointers are dangerous is because of their wavelength. Typically, light beams contain various wavelengths that travel together for some time, each dispersing after its designated distance.
Laser pointers, in contrast, emit a beam in which all wavelengths are the same and synchronized. This feature makes the beam more penetrative and allows it to retain its power and damage potential.
The problem is that most commercially available laser pointers are still not treated with the amount of care they need. It makes them accessible to children, who can easily use them carelessly to cause extensive harm to themselves or their peers.
Can a Laser Pointer be Disposed of Safely?
The simple answer is “yes.” A laser pointer can be disposed of safely; however, doing so will require following some authorized guidelines to minimize the risk of injury due to hazardous components.
How to Dispose of Laser Pointers
The best way to dispose of laser pointers is to treat them similar to other electronic gadgets. Make sure you remove all batteries from the device if you can and leave them at a battery collection point.
Once you have followed this step, take the battery-less laser pointer to an electronic waste recycling center near you and dispose of it as you would any electronic waste. If you cannot separate the batteries, you will need to leave everything at the battery collection point.
Using this disposal method will keep the laser pointer out of reach of children or animals that may injure themselves trying to figure out what the device is for or playing with it.
Other Steps You Can Take to Increase Safety
Besides ensuring the safe disposal of laser pointers, you can also take several steps to increase safety when you own a laser pointer. Below are some of the most prominent and successful methods:
Buy a Lower Powered Laser Pointer if You Must
The best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from laser pointers is not to buy them. However, if you must buy them, make sure you buy the weaker powered laser pointers because those are the safest.
While US laws limit manufacturers from commercially distributing any laser pointer with a higher than 5mW power source, some more powerful options are still available.
Make sure the one you buy is legal. It would also be better to opt for a lower power than the maximum allowed to improve safety.
Always Be Mindful of the Quality
Some laser pointers in the market are of poorer quality, which may be more potent than the manufacturer claims and less consistent. Given how hazardous laser pointers can be for you or your loved ones’ health, being mindful of quality is critical.
Keep Laser Pointers Away From Children
While you may understand the necessary precautions as an adult, the same cannot be said for children, who are one of the most at risk of damage due to laser pointers. Laser beams are often found in children’s toys, and elongated usage can cause damage.
According to specialists at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, 30-60 seconds of uninterrupted exposure to laser pointers of even 5mW can cause temporary or permanent damage to children’s vision. They also advise against buying any toys that may emit laser beams to keep children safe.
Do Not Shine the Pointer in a Person’s Eye
Please avoid using the laser pointer carelessly, and especially avoid pointing it in someone’s eye. As mentioned above, it can cause severe damage to their health.
Check State Laws Around Disposal
Some states have specific laws around the disposal of laser pointers. In contrast, some states either have no laws; instead, they provide general guidelines for the disposal of electronic waste. These guidelines are not enforced like laws and don’t carry any penalty or punishment upon non-compliance. Make sure you check the regulations in your state to ensure you are disposing of them legally and correctly.
Can the Damage Caused by Laser Pointers be Treated?
There are currently minimal options for treating the damage caused by prolonged eye exposure to lasers. Most people who get laser eye damage have to live with it for their entire lives, making it even crueler.
Hence, the best solution is to avoid using it altogether.
In short, based on multiple guidelines on how to dispose of laser pointers, you need to treat them as any other electronic gadget and put them in electronic waste recycling centers. It is also best to be mindful of the dangers they pose to health and avoid using them carelessly.
Ensure that you also follow out tips for increasing safety while buying and using laser pointers. So long as you follow the safety tips, you and your loved ones will be safe from laser pointer hazards.
Vance is a dad, former software engineer, and tech lover. Knowing how a computer works becomes handy when he builds Pointer Clicker. His quest is to make tech more accessible for non-techie users. When not working with his team, you can find him caring for his son and gaming.