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Buckyballs named as one of a dozen dangerous products available this holiday shopping season

Dec 4, 2012

Consumer safety advocates have issued a list of some of the more dangerous toys and other products that may be popular but pose serious injury risks, especially when in the wrong hands.

Chief among those products subject of a report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group entitled "Trouble in Toyland" are those known as Buckyballs. These are the small desktop novelties that contain numerous small high-powered magnets that can be manipulated into different shapes. These products are typically marketed to older children and adults and warnings on most of the products say they are only intended for adults but they possess all the visual stimulants to gain a child's attention, too.

If these magnets break free of their form, they possess a significant health risk, especially if they're accidentally ingested by children. Once inside the body, these magnets can cause sudden and severe injuries that require emergency medical treatment. The strong but small magnets can easily fuse together inside the body, even through the walls of the large intestine, posing a serious risk of perforation, severe bleeding, and even death.

In the report, USPIR recorded at least 1,700 incidents which required emergency medical attention due to the ingestion of these small magnets, like those found in Buckyballs and others, like Zen Magnets products. Most of the incidents involved children between the ages of 4 and 12. Children may put these magnets in their mouths for numerous reasons, everthing from pure curiosity out of younger children or older ones who place them on their tongue to mimic a piercing, the report notes.

These products are likely to be big sellers this time of year and given as gifts. Many people buying them as gifts may not be aware of the dangers they pose. Earlier this year however, the Consumer Product Safety Commission urged the makers of these products to stop marketing them altogether. Bound by its regulatory limits and the fact that these makers do make the required warnings about their safety, federal regulators were essentially muted and these products are still widely available, especially on the Web. It was not until late this summer did the company that markets Buckballs say it would cease those sales but they're still likely available elsewhere.

Among the other toys making this dubious list are a Dora the Explorer guitar that USPIR researchers found to be too loud and was above federal limits for such toys. Also, a dragster car with very small wheels also made the report for safety violations that could result in serious injuries. The group examined more than 200 toys available at retail and discount stores nationwide. Among them, just a dozen were found to be in violation of federal safety standards, including those for lead paint, small parts, or other common safety concerns.

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