The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is banning high-powered magnet sets following reports of injuries and one death. According to the commission, the tiny high-powered magnets can be dangerous if ingested because the magnets will be very strongly attracted to each other and go through the gastrointestinal system.
According to the CPSC, these types of magnets caused the death of one toddler and nearly 3,000 children went to the emergency room after swallowing magnets between 2009 and 2013. “High-powered magnet sets are hazardous to young children, who have mouthed and ingested these magnets,” the CPSC stated. “The magnets also pose a serious risk to teens and tweens, who have used them to create mock lip, tongue, and nose piercings.”
On average, the magnet sets contain 200 magnets; some have as many as 1,700. The CPSC stated that “If multiple magnets are ingested, the magnets attract each other, pinching or trapping intestines or other digestive tissue between them. The result can be a serious injury that requires surgery and can lead to lifelong health consequences or death.”
The new rules place new restrictions on how magnets are made, effectively banning these high-powered magnet sets. According to CBS News, the rules will take effect sometime next year. After they are in place, manufacturing, importing or selling the older types of magnets will be illegal. Some of the magnets that have been on the market are 37 times as powerful as the limit set by the new rules. Additionally, the CPSC is requiring that the magnets must be larger than a special small parts cylinder.
Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG Consumer Program Director, said in a statement “These are not your grandmother’s harmless refrigerator magnets,” according to CBS News. High-powered magnet sets came under scrutiny following the recall of Buckyballs, a popular desk set. The manufacturer settled CPSC charges earlier this year and agreed to recall and refund consumers who purchased the sets.
The commission’s actions were commended by consumer and health groups, including the Consumer Federation of America and Kids In Danger, who stated: “We applaud the CPSC for issuing this important mandatory rule. High powered magnets have caused serious injuries and a fatality to children,” Rachel Weintraub, the CFA’s legislative director and senior counsel said. “This rule will impact the type of magnet sets that can be sold in the future while CPSC’s past enforcement actions will get these products out of people’s homes and away from children who could be harmed by ingesting two or more of these magnets.”