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Buckyballs, Buckycubes Magnet Toys Ordered Off the Market Following Injuries to Kids

Jul 26, 2012 | Parker Waichman LLP

Federal consumer safety officials have urged the makers of Buckyballs and Buckycubes to stop selling these “desk toys” because the high-powered magnets in them pose serious health risks to children.

Even though Buckyballs and Buckycubes are marketed mostly for adults as a novelty item to stick on their desks at work or home, they’re popular among children and the youngest are most likely to be the ones who stick these “toys” in their mouths and swallow them.

Ingesting high-powered magnets poses myriad health risks and can require multiple surgeries and long hospital stays to alleviate the dangers posed by them.

According to a CNN report on action taken by the Consumer Product Safety Commission this week, the agency is urging the makers of Buckyballs and Buckycubes to cease all marketing of the “toys” because of the growing reports of injuries sustained by children who ingest these products, specifically. In the last three years, the agency has received more than a dozen incident reports in which a small child swallowed the magnets used in Buckyballs and Buckycubes.

Maxfield & Oberton, the makers of these products, has refused to comply with the CPSC request. In a statement to CNN, the company said it believes it is properly marketing the products to people over the age of 14 and there are at least five warning labels on the product packaging to keep Buckyballs and Buckycubes away from children, noting the risks they pose to smaller children. It also noted that there are “half a billion magnets in the world” and that because its product is more popular than most containing these high-powered magnets, it is being singled-out by the federal safety agency.

Buckyballs and Buckycubes claim to each contain numerous high-powered “rare earth” magnets. These magnets are used in numerous consumer applications and are included in many toys and products like those in question that contain magnets. Swallowing just a few magnets can have disastrous effects for anyone but especially small children who are more likely to put them in their mouths. The magnets can enter the intestinal tract and cause infection. If they bind together on either side of the intestinal wall, they can cause severe perforation or a breakdown of the intestine. Numerous surgeries may be required to remove the magnets and then to clear a person of the damage they’ve caused.

The request from the CPSC is not without precedent. CNN reports the agency made a similar request to the makers of BB guns about the dangers of their products and urged them to stop marketing them.

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