Written by Faith Anderson on July 26, 2012
Buckyballs Fail to Meet Mandatory Toy Standard
The CPSC filed the administrative complaint against Maxfield & Oberton after discussions with the company failed to result in a voluntary recall plan that the agency’s staff found appropriate. In May 2010, the CPSC and Maxfield & Oberton announced a cooperative recall of about 175,000 Buckyball toys, because they were labeled “Ages 13+,” and therefore did not meet the federal mandatory toy standard requiring such powerful loose magnets to be sold only for children 14 and older. At the time of the 2010 recall, the toy company was aware of two reports of children swallowing one or more Buckyball magnets without sustaining injuries. After the recall was issued, the CPSC continued to receive reports of children ingesting the high-powered magnets, and also learned of incidents in which children had suffered injuries when the magnets attracted one another through the gastrointestinal tract.
Warnings and Education are Ineffective
In November 2011, Maxfield & Oberton and the CPSC worked together to inform and educate consumers about the proper use of Buckyballs and the dangers associated with ingesting multiple magnets. Unfortunately, even after issuing the safety alert, magnet ingestions and related injuries continued to occur. Since 2009, the CPSC has learned of more than two dozen ingestion incidents – at least one dozen of which involved Buckyballs – and surgery was required in many of the cases. In its complaint, the CPSC claims that, despite attempts to warn consumers, warning and education cannot prevent injuries and incidents with the powerful Buckyball and Buckycube magnets.
Buckyball Magnets Can Cause Internal Injury and Death
This type of legal action taken against a company on the part of the CPSC is rare; this is only the second legal complaint of this kind filed by the CPSC in the past 11 years. However, the substantial risk of injury linked to Buckyball products has forced the CPSC to take action against the manufacturer. The CPSC has received reports of toddlers finding loose magnets and placing them in their mouths. Since it can be difficult for a parent to tell if any of the tiny magnets are missing from a set, the inhalation may initially go unnoticed. Use of the product by older children and teenagers to mimic tongue, cheek or lip piercings has resulted in incidents where one or more magnets were unintentionally inhaled and swallowed. When two or more of these magnets are swallowed, they can attract to one another through the intestinal walls and stomach, resulting in serious injuries like intestinal blockage, holes in the stomach and intestines, blood poisoning, and possibly even death.