ICNIRP – Biological Limits for Eye and Skin

Limits for the exposure of the eye and the skin (”Maximum permissible exposure“, ”exposure limits“) are established by the experts group ICNIRP on an international level. These ”biological“ limits are in a complex way dependent on the wavelength of the optical radiation, on the duration of the pulse/exposure, on the retinal spot size and on the pulse pattern.

We have characterised some of the dependencies of the injury thresholds in our research projects, the results of which are the basis for some of the ongoing changes of the exposure limits as promulgated by ICNIRP (see also publications in Download section). In comparison to the dependencies of the direct bio-effects of the irradiation on tissue, the exposure limits still represent simplifications. The head of our expert group, Karl Schulmeister, has been designated as a member of ICNIRP standing committee “Optics” since 2003 and, as consulting member, was already involved in the defining of the photochemical limits for laser radiation in the year 2000.

The ICNIRP guidelines and statements can be downloaded free of charge:

The exposure limits the eye and the skin, which are recommended by ICNIRP on an international level are on the one hand adopted by the IEC for technical product safety standards (see below), on the other hand they are often adopted for exposure at the work place in the legal framework of health and safety at the workplace. This particularly applies to Europe, where the ICNIRP exposure limits are used in the European directive of 2006 on artificial optical radiation (the content of the directive had to be adopted in national law in all European member states). In order to reduce the complexity of the safety analysis for the employer at the workplace, the classification of the emission of products according to the IEC/EN standards and further information of the manufacturers, such as hazard distances, will have a central position. The Austrian Inspectorate for Work Place Safety has already published a corresponding simplified safety analysis on the basis of the product classifications according to EN 62471 and EN 60825-1.