Did Amazon sell fake solar eclipse glasses that weren't ISO approved?
Yes, and they are issuing full refunds a week before the August 21 spectacle.
Dr. B. Ralph Chou, Co-author of International Organization for Standardization-ISO 12312-2:2015 Eye and Face Protection --Filters for direct observation of the sun and Professor Emeritus Optometry & Vision Science, University of Waterloo
Laurent Charlet, Project Manager, Conformity Assessment at International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
Amazon.com, Inc. Statement
We began on the International Organization for Standardization's website for ISO 12312-2:2015, the standardized code globally recognized as the golden standard for sunglass and filter safety. In some countries it's law for manufacturers to make their products in ISO-certified laboratories.
We got in touch with Dr. B. Ralph Chou, co-author of the ISO code that explains safe eclipse glasses, and asked him whether there are eclipse glasses for sale online that falsely claim certification under an ISO-approved lab.
Chou says counterfeit glasses are "nothing new."
"Here it's very much just buyer beware and you have to be knowledgeable when you buy the goods," Chou said over Skype. "It's very much on you as a purchaser."
Chou tipped us off a couple weeks ago that Amazon was doing a "nuclear" crackdown on their site to weed out glasses with fake certifications. We tried confirming with Amazon, but for two weeks, the online superstore did not respond to Verify's messages.
Over the weekend Amazon sent emails to consumers announcing that they were recalling glasses and offering full refunds.
"Safety is among our highest priorities. Out of an abundance of caution, we have proactively reached out to customers and provided refunds for eclipse glasses that may not comply with industry standards. We want customers to buy with confidence anytime they make a purchase on Amazon.com and eclipse glasses sold on Amazon.com are required to comply with the relevant ISO standard," Amazon said in a statement to KGW.
A representative from ISO says they are not responsible for manufacturers complying with their code.
"We are only involved in the development of standards. ISO is not in any way involved in the implementation of our standard nor in the conformity assessment activities," Laurent Charlet, an ISO representative said. "The testing, inspection or certification activities that are meant to demonstrate if requirements contained in standards are met are done by external companies and have no relation with ISO."
"We have received complaints and queries related to glasses for the eclipse in the US and the problems comes from the fact that manufacturers do not display correctly the information," he continued. "ISO is not involved in the testing but only in the standard the manufacturers are using which is ISO 12312-2:2015 Eye and face protection -- Sunglasses and related eyewear -- Part 2: Filters for direct observation of the sun”."
To figure out if your glasses are safe to use, try looking at a light bulb or the sun while wearing the glasses. It should block out all light with only the glowing object visible.
Here's a list of reputable solar eclipse glasses vendors from the American Astronomical Society. Check out who's on out and where to buy them:
- American Paper Optics (Eclipser) / EclipseGlasses.com / 3dglassesonline.com
- APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses)*
- Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film)* [see note]
- Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses & Viewers)
- DayStar (Solar Glasses)
- Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses)
- Halo Solar Eclipse Spectacles
- Lunt Solar Systems (SUNsafe SUNglasses) [see their unique kid-size eclipse glasses]
- Meade Instruments (EclipseView Glasses & Viewers)
- Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades) [sold out]
- Seymour Solar (Helios Glasses)
- Solar Eclipse International / Cangnan County Qiwei Craft Co.* (plastic glasses only)
- Thousand Oaks Optical (Silver-Black Polymer & SolarLite)
- TSE 17 / 110th.de (Solar Filter Foil)*
Note: Baader Planetarium's AstroSolar Safety Film and AstroSolar Photo Film, sold in the U.S. by Alpine Astronomical and Astro-Physics (see below), are not certified to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard and are not designed to work as eclipse shades or handheld solar filters. Baader's AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film, on the other hand, does meet the ISO 12312-2 safety standard for filters for eyes-only direct viewing of the Sun.