Aqua Dots Poisoning Cases Rise to Nine, As Chinese Concede the Toxin Was Used on BeadsNov 12, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP Aqua Dots have sickened a total of nine children in the United States so far, prompting another round of warnings about these dangerous toys. Meanwhile, the Chinese government admitted over the weekend that Aqua Dots where indeed made with a chemical that turns into the so-called “date rape” drug if swallowed. Aqua Dots were recalled last week after two children in this country reportedly fell into a coma after swallowing the tainted beads.
Aqua Dots is a craft kit distributed in the United States by Spin Master Toys, based in Toronto, Canada. Children are able to create various multi-dimensional designs using small colored beads that come with the Aqua Dots kit. The beads fuse together when sprayed with water. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) the chemical coating used to make Aqua Dots beads stick together turns into the “date rape” drug Gamma Hydroxyl Butyrate if the beads are swallowed. This toxic compound can cause unconsciousness, seizures, drowsiness, coma and death.
According to the CPSC, it has received seven more reports of children in the US being sickened by the toxic toy since issuing the Aqua Dots recall last week. In Australia, where the toys are sold as Bindeez, three children who are being treated for Aqua Dot injuries remain hospitalized. Two children from New Zealand were also hospitalized after ingesting the beads.
Over the weekend, the Chinese government’s general Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine confirmed that the factory that produced the toy had substituted the poison because it was less expensive than the safe chemical that the factory was supposed to have used. In response to the Aqua Dots scandal, the Chinese government has stripped Wangqi Product Factory in Southeast China of its export license. Moose Enterprise of Australia, the company which licenses Aqua Dots, said that it was never made aware of the ingredient substitution.
The Chinese government’s response to the Aqua Dots recall was speedier and more forthcoming than it has been in the past when products from that country proved hazardous. However, the Chinese regulatory agency still tried to deflect some of the blame for the Aqua Dots debacle onto Moose Enterprise, and even onto consumers who unknowingly purchased the poisonous toy. The agency noted that the Aqua Dots packaging had a warning that “swallowing can cause danger” and that the toy was not recommended for children under three. The Chinese also said that Moose Enterprises had approved trial samples of the Aqua Dots before the factory made them on a large scale. However, the Chinese regulators have not indicated if the Wangqi Product Factory had used the toxic chemical on the trial samples, nor would it say if the factory made Moose Enterprise aware of the ingredient switch.
In light of the new Aqua Dots poisoning cases in the US, the CPSC is reminding consumers to take the toxic toy away from children immediately. Aqua dots can be returned for a free replacement toy by calling Spin Master at (800) 622-8339 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or by visiting www.aquadotsrecall.com