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Laser Pointer Advisory for use at LBNL

laser pointerlaser pointer

Commercial laser pointers are most commonly designed to assist speakers when giving lectures or business presentations. A high-tech alternative to the retractable, metal pointer, the laser pointer beam will produce a small dot of light on whatever object at which it is aimed. It can draw an audience’s attention to a particular key point in a slide show. They are also useful to point out over head items during audits and at construction sites.

Pointers like devices are also used for other purposes such as the aligning of other lasers, laying pipes in construction, and as aiming devices for firearms.

LBNL allows the use of class 2 and Class 3A/R laser pointers without prior approval. The use of any other class laser pointer will need the prior approval of the Laser Safety Officer. All users and hosts of speakers are expected to follow safe laser practices:

Laser Pointer Tips:


Never shine a laser pointer at anyone. Laser pointers are designed to illustrate inanimate objects.


Do not allow minors to use a pointer unsupervised.
Laser pointers are not toys.


Do not point a laser pointer at mirror-like surfaces. A reflected beam can act like a direct beam on the eye.


Be aware of irresponsible uses of pointers so the psychological effect will be minimized if you are illuminated by one.


Do not purchase a laser pointer if it does not have a caution or danger sticker on it identifying its class. Report suspicious devices to the FDA.


Laser Pointer Safety Guidelines

When used as intended, these devices do not present a hazard to the user or to members of the audience. To ensure safety, follow these guidelines:

  • Do not intentionally stare into the laser beam.
  • Do not intentionally aim the pointer beam at oneself or another person, particularly in the face.
  • Direct the beam toward the screen and away from the audience.
  • Turn the beam off when not in use.
  • Do not point the laser beam at mirror like surfaces.

Legal implications of Laser Pointer Misuse

The California Penal Code has several sections that state that misuse of a laser pointer can be considered a misdemeanor or felony. In particular, directing any laser beam at another person may constitute assault (suggesting the use of a laser gun sight) and directing any laser beam at an aircraft may constitute malicious mischief. These items can result in fines and or jail sentences.

Green Pointers

This pointer is a frequency-doubled Nd:YAG lasers. The output beam is 532 nm, with a blocked infrared beam at 1,064 nm. These pointers are exceptionally bright to the human eye; for safety, it is critical that the invisible 1,064 nm beam-blocking filter be in place.  They are not any more hazardous, but have received complains of eye strain due to their perceived brightness.

Labeling of Pointers

The pointer manufacturer is required by federal law (21 CFR Part 1040) to have a laser warning label on the pointer. The label must show the laser hazard symbol, laser classification, laser wavelength, and maximum power output.