Federal regulators are seeking a complete halt to the sale of Buckyballs, a powerful magnetic desk toy for adults, due to numerous reports involving children swallowing the magnets, which could result in serious and potentially life-threatening inuries.
According to an administrative complaint filed this week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has received reports of toddlers finding loose Buckyball and Buckycube magnets left within reach and swallowing them.
When the high powered magnets are swallowed they could cause serious internal injuries, especially if the magnets attract within the body, potentially resulting in organ perforation or death. As a result of the risk of problems with the Buckeyball magnetic toys, the CPSC is seeking a ban on the production.
There are up to 216 powerful rare earth magnets in Buckyballs and Buckycubes. There have been two dozen magnet ingestion incidents since 2009, the CPSC reports, with at least a dozen linked to Buckyballs, many of which resulted in injuries for children who required surgery.
This is only the CPSC’s second administrative complaint in 11 years, and was filed after Maxfield & Oberton Holdings LLC, of New York, N.Y., failed to issue a voluntary Buckyball Magnetic Toy recall in a way the CPSC considered adequate.
The company and the CPSC were able to cooperate on a Buckyball recall in May 2010, which came because the toys were labeled “Ages 13+” and failed to meet federal toy standards for powerful loose magnets, which cannot be sold to children under the age of 14.
In November 2011, the company and the CPSC worked together again on an educational campaign to tell consumers that the magnets were only meant for adult use. However, the CPSC indicates that the previous efforts have not been enough.
According to a Reuters report, the founder of Maxfield and Oberton criticized the CPSC position and attempted to politicize the magnet recall in an emailed statement, describing the commission as hand-picked by President Barack Obama.
Powerful toy magnets and their risks to children have been causing increasing concerns in recent years, resulting in several recalls and some lawsuits against manufacturers.
In a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics in June 2012, the risk of serious injuries from magnet toys was highlighted, explaining that the magnets may attract to one another across the intestinal wall, causing severe internal damage, such as obstructions and perforations. It is often necessary to remove the magnets surgically, which can result in further damage to the child’s stomach or intestines.
Earlier this month, U.S. Toymaker Battat Incorporated, maker of the Magnabild Magnetic Building Sets, was fined $400,000 for allegedly failing to report problems with their magnetic toys, which were blamed for the death of at least one child.
In May two personal injury lawsuits were filed against MEGA Brands of America after children suffered severe intestinal injuries from swallowing magnets from the Magnetix brand toy line.