How Dangerous are Lasers?

I spent everyday in the lab for the past few weeks shooting high power lasers at microscopic materials, but how much risk is actually involved. Well, there were two lasers in my lab, a CO2 Laser and a small tunable laser. The tunable laser is of almost no concern with worst possible case being struck in the eye and blinking, maybe shedding a few tears. The real danger is the class 4 CO2 laser which has a maximum laser power of 75 watts. That beam possesses the same power as 15000 laser pointers. They are commonly used for cutting welding and engraving wood and metal. CO2 lasers also produce unseeable beams of infrared light. While in the lab, I only used the laser at 5% of it’s maximum power, but these dangers were always present. Making sure the laser was always aligned, removing anything that could reflect the laser from the beam path, and wearing infrared resistant goggles were essential to staying safe while using lasers. With all of these precautions, lasers must be pretty dangerous, right? Well, only a little. No one has ever died from a laser beam in the lab. Serious burns and eyesight loss have occurred during the operation of class 4(highest class) lasers.Superlaser2.jpg

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