Expanding Material Used in Water Balz Also In Other Household Items

Following a recall issued last year for Water Balz, small water-absorbing balls that may expand substantially if they are accidentally swallowed, Consumer Reports is warning that the same superabsorbent materials are also found in other household products and could pose a similar health risk for children.

The Consumer Reports warning comes after at least two recent cases reported in Pakistan, one of which resulted in the death of a child.

Even though the Water Balz toys, which were specifically marketed to children, were recalled late last year, Consumer Reports says there are still other products that use the same material, which has sparked a broader investigation by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

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Water-retaining pellets meant for use in gardening or flower arrangements use the same superabsorbing materials, and also start as tiny pellets that expand into larger balls. The polymer beads are banned in Italy and Malaysia, after reports involving children who had to undergo surgery to remove them from their bodies.

The Water Balz recall was issued on December 17, after an 8-month girl in Texas swallowed one of the toys and needed emergency surgery to remove it from her intestines, where it had expanded and lodged.

According to Consumer Reports, the polymer balls pose a serious hazard for young children because they can expand inside the body if swallowed, causing a potential blockage of the small intestine.

This can be life-threatening, and can cause vomiting, dehydration and severe pain. The Water Balz recall by Dunecraft also included other expanding toys using the same materials, including Growing Skulls, Fabulous Flowers and “Despicable Me” expanding toys.

The toys can still be purchased from other companies and go by a variety of names, including water marbles, water beads and polymer gel balls.

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