In many laboratories, the sharing of laser safety goggles among research staff is a common practice. However, this practice can accelerate the spread of COVID-19. Another related issue that has arisen due to COVID-19 precautions is that laser safety goggles can become foggy when a face mask is worn. Environmental Health and Safety has made the following recommendations to help alleviate these problems.
- If laser users are working alone in the lab or if they can always keep a 2-meter distance from any other person, they do not need to wear a face mask.
- If laser users have their own laser goggles and they are not shared by other people, disinfection of the goggles after each use is not required. Laser users must keep the laser goggles on their desk or in their drawer. Leaving them next to the laser or on the optical table can lead to the wrong assumption that they are for common use.
- If laser users share the goggles and if they need to wear a face mask, follow the disinfection and antifogging procedure (below) after each use. The soapy water will kill/remove the SARS-CoV-2 virus and will also help prevent fogging.
Disinfection and antifogging procedure
- First, ALWAYS confirm with the laser goggles’ manufacturer or vendor the best procedure for antifogging and disinfection for your specific goggles. If the manufacturer does not reply or is no longer in business, follow next steps as a general procedure.
- Prepare a warm (35 °C – 40 °C) soapy water solution using regular mild dish soap. The soap must be clear (not milky). Make sure it does not contain peracetic acid or amine combinations.
- Wash the laser goggles thoroughly with soapy water using an optic cloth. DON’T use paper towels to clean the goggles, it may scratch the lens surface.
- After taking the goggles out of the soapy water solution, do not rinse the lenses. Let the goggles dry with the lenses in a vertical position. The thin soapy layer remaining on the lens surface will prevent fogging. Manually drying the goggles with a soft cloth may remove the anti-fogging soapy layer.
- If the laser goggles cannot be inserted into water, wash them thoroughly with the optical cloth dipped in the soapy water. Use an antifog solution to wipe the inside of the lenses.
Below is a list of common manufacturers/vendors of laser goggles. EHS recommends that you contact your own vendor to confirm that this disinfection procedure is compatible with your goggle’s materials
Rockwell Laser Industries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laser Safety Industries: https://lasersafetyindustries.com/submit-for-assistance-contact-us/
Survival Laser: https://www.survivallaser.com/index.aspx?pageid=556085
Please contact the LSO if this procedure is not compatible with your goggles.