Neodymium High-Powered Magnet Balls Are Deemed One of the Most Dangerous Toys Sold in Stores and Online
According to a child safety article on ConsumerReports.org, thousands of children are being injured due to super-strong magnet desk toy sets. Concerned parents and safety advocates are urging the federal government to remove the high-powered magnetic ball toys from the market.
Many of the high-powered magnet balls are made from neodymium, which is a “rare earth” magnet. The magnets are extremely dangerous because they are about 30 times stronger than an ordinary refrigerator magnet. When small children accidentally swallow the small magnet balls, the magnets connect, causing obstructions and other life-threatening injuries. The magnets can also become attached across small bones and tissue. When the small magnet balls are in the intestines, the magnet balls can “trap tissue between them,” causing intestinal lining holes, blockages, infections, and other potentially deadly complications.
Doctors in the article warn that even one magnet that has been swallowed is dangerous. For example, if the magnet ball inside a child is “drawn” toward the child’s metal buckle or any other metal object outside the child’s body, causing damage to organs or other body tissue between the magnet and the metal object. A child could be killed if he or she swallowed a magnet and then underwent a medical imaging (MRI) procedure. The magnet will likely move or generate electric currents causing serious or fatal injuries due to an MRI magnet’s power. The magnets have been reported to turn off heart pacemakers due to the electrical interference caused by the strong magnets.
Because of those and other risks, a child who has swallowed one or more of the toy magnets will require an emergency endoscopy or emergency abdominal surgery to remove the magnets. The surgeries are risky and could cause life-long medical complications.
The Consumer Reports article states that over 14,500 children we taken to emergency rooms due to magnet-related ingestions from 2010 to 2015. Consumer product safety advocates believe that the number of injuries caused by the magnetic balls will not decline until the federal government enacts new regulations. Some companies such as Zen Magnetshave agreed to stop selling the high-powered neodymium magnets due to losing a legal battle with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, the dangerous high-powered neodymium magnets are still sold online and in retail stores under various different names.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is working on a new regulation regarding toy magnets. However, until the magnets are outlawed, children will be suffering lifelong injuries or worse since parents and doctors do not know how dangerous the rare-earth magnets are to children. There is a real danger when emergency room physicians or general surgeons try to remove these magnets as they would with other foreign bodies. The magnets present a real challenge for even the most skilled surgeon.
Safety advocates suggest that parents dispose of the magnets and to visit an emergency department for an emergency X-ray if it is suspected that someone swallowed one of these magnets.
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