Buckyballs, Buckycubes Removed From Market Amid Safety Concerns
The makers of Buckyballs and Buckycubes have decided to stop making their controversial magnetic toys, indicating that they are ending their fight with U.S. regulators to keep the products on the market.
Maxfield and Oberton’s Buckyballs website indicates that it is now selling off all of the remaining stock for the adult desk toys, stating that it has ceased production for Buckyballs and Buckycubes.
The decision comes not only after legal pressure by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), but also after findings of other health experts who have determined that warnings provided with the small magnetic balls are ineffective and that there may be no way to make the adult toys safe to have around children.
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The CPSC and some independent children’s health advocates say the toys are too dangerous because children frequently swallow the powerful rare-earth magnets, which can attract across the intestinal wall and cause severe internal injury or death.
Prior to ending their fight to keep Buckyballs and Buckycubes on the market, the manufacturer has been attempting to capitalize on the regulatory dispute with the CPSC, creating a line of T-shirts and other products that highlight the company’s struggle to prevent the toys from being recalled.
Maxfield and Oberton has clung to the fact that the toys have warning labels, but the CPSC and others have said that the warning labels do not work at preventing children from being injured.
CPSC Cracks Down On All Toy Magnet Makers
Earlier this year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requested that 13 manufacturers of the magnetic ball toys issue voluntary recalls and stop sales. While 11 companies complied, the regulatory agency was forced to file rare administrative complaints against two manufacturers, seeking to force an involuntary Buckyball recall and Zen Magnets recall.
The administrative complaints are a way for the CPSC to make a mandatory recall of a dangerous product, and this is the first time in 11 years the regulatory agency has had to take such action in an effort to protect consumers.
Officials at Maxfield and Oberton have argued that the attempt to recall Buckyballs is an example of government overreach. The company has been attempting to tap into anti-government sentiments, going as far as getting several members of congress to write a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to intervene.
A number of non-government organizations have backed the CPSC’s decision, suggesting that the small, bb-sized magnets present an attractive hazard for young children who may place them in their mouth or for teens and young adults who may use the magnets to simulate tongue or cheek piercings.
Children’s Health Experts Applaud Recalls
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), representing the nation’s pediatricians, issued a report critical of the magnetic office toys in July 2012, explaining not only the dangers of the toys, but also warning that parents often do not see the warning labels and do not understand the danger the toys represent to both children and teens.
Late last month the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) issued a report finding that there was no way to use label warnings to protect children from the powerful magnetic toys.
Consisting of dozens of chrome, shiny spheres, they are powerful magnets. When two or more are swallowed by a child, they may attract to each other inside the body, causing intestinal injuries, bowel perforations and other potentially life-threatening internal injuries.
NASPGHAN found that 204 rare-earth magnet swallowing incidents occurred in the last year alone, with 80% of those requiring the child to undergo surgery. Often the surgery requires a portion of the child’s bowels be removed, which carries a risk of life-long health complications.
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