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US commission warns about toys’ magnets after children’s deaths

Magnets from children’s toys have been linked to seven deaths after being ingested, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned, announcing one company’s voluntary recall of a toy set that contained the small but powerful magnets and issuing warnings about six other companies with similar toys.

The agency said it was aware of seven deaths, including two outside the US, and about 2 400 emergency-room visits between 2017 and 2021 linked to ingesting the high-powered magnets, reports The New York Times.

The danger is that they could easily attach with magnets or other metal objects, making them an even greater hazard if swallowed along with another object. Even swallowed by themselves, the small magnetic balls pose a risk of perforation to or blockage of the intestines, blood poisoning or death, the commission said.

Last year, the commission approved a new safety standard for small magnets, requiring that products be either too large to swallow or weak enough to reduce the risk of internal injuries when swallowed.

During tests, the magnets, which are made of rare earth metals and measure just 5mm, or roughly the size of a pea, fit within the commission’s small parts cylinder, about the size of a fully expanded throat of a child under three-years-old.

At least seven companies this year were selling products that failed to meet the new standard, said Patty Davis, a commission spokeswoman.

After testing the toys, the commission found that some of the small, separate metal balls that can be sculpted into shapes, were too small, too strong or both, she added.

One company, XpressGoods, had recalled and offered refunds for a set of colourful magnets it sold as Neodymium Magic Magnetic Balls. The recall affected about 700 units sold online between July 2021 and May 2022. The company could not be reached for comment last week.

The commission warned consumers against several other products: SplishSplashFun’s SplishSplash Balls Reusable Water Balloons; MXN Commerce Carrara Magnet Ball Sets; Magic QQ’s 216-Piece Mixed Colour Magnetic Ball Sets; Ming Tai Trade’s 216-Piece 5mm Magnetic Ball Sets; Sunny House’s 125-Piece 5mm Mixed Colour Magnetic Ball Sets and Allvre’s 216-Piece 5mm Magnetic Ball Sets.

“These companies refused to do recalls so we’re going directly to consumers,” Davis said. “You need to stop using them immediately. Throw them away.”

SplishSplashFun’s website was down and the company could not be immediately reached. MXN Commerce did not immediately respond to a request for comment. No contact information could be found for Magic QQ, Allvre or Ming Tai Trade, all companies based in China.

On Temu, the popular Chinese shopping platform, Sunny House’s products page was also down.

Beyond issuing warnings to consumers, the commission can sue or begin a mandatory recall process, but that can take years.

In 2021, the agency enforced a mandatory recall of a toy set produced by Zen Magnets LLC after two children required surgery to remove ingested magnets lodged so deeply that parts of their intestines and bowels had to be removed.


The New York Times article – 7 deaths linked to small magnets found in US toys (Restricted access)


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