What are some negative impacts of lasers?

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gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The application of lasers in various aspects of our lives (including medicinal science, CDs, etc.) has significant implications for the environment, human beings, economics and society.

Some of the negative impacts of lasers include:

  • Economic impacts: lasers have brought revolutionary changes in medicinal science, the automotive industry, etc. and have brought jobs to some, while pushing others out of employment. For example, lasers have provided us with CDs and DVDs, due to which people who made cassettes and VCRs are out of a job now. Similarly, with LASIK laser eye surgery, people can get rid of glasses, pushing the glass-makers out of a job.
  • Health impact: A laser is a focused beam of light and can cause localized burning of the retina and permanent loss of vision. Cosmetic lasers have their own issues, including severe pain during the procedure, bruising, infection, etc. 
  • Environmental impacts: some high-energy lasers work at high temperature and are water-cooled. This large quantity of hot water is disposed of, resulting in issues with receiving bodies of water.
  • Military impacts: The military has experimented with laser weapons that can temporarily blind an enemy pilot or bring down an incoming missile. Successful development of such weapons will start an arms-race.

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