Buckyballs are one of the most popular desktop toys on the market. Essentially, the toy consists of a set of 216 spherically-shaped super powerful rare earth magnets. The magnets can be manipulated and molded to form a variety of different shapes.
Buckyballs are marketed to adults as something fun to keep on your desk at work. However, they can be incredibly dangerous in the hands of small children.
The individual balls are small enough to create a serious choking hazard if children put them in their mouths. Even worse, though, are the injuries that can occur if children swallow more than one magnet. In those cases, the balls can stick together inside children’s digestive tracts, causing intestinal blockages and other serious health problems.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission wants the company to issue a public announcement warning consumers about the product, and to issue refunds to existing consumers. Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, the company that sells Buckyballs, is one of 13 companies the CPSC has targeted for voluntary recalls based on the manufacturing of rare-earth magnets. Eleven of the 12 other companies have complied.
Buckyballs, along with its competitor Zen Magnets, have refused to comply. They say that the products carry sufficient warnings. The CPSC disagrees. It says that the warnings aren’t enough given the serious hazards the magnets pose. Since the companies have refused to comply with a voluntary recall, the CPSC has brought an administrative complaint to force a recall. The last time this was done was 11 years ago, when the CPSC sought a recall of BB guns made by Daisy Manufacturing.
Only time will tell if the CPSC’s action will be successful. In the meantime, anybody who owns a set of Buckyballs or other rare earth magnets should be sure to either discard the toys or keep them well out of the reach of children.
Source: The New York Times, “For Buckyballs Toys, Child Safety Is a Growing Issue,” Andrew Martin, August 16, 2012.
For more information on injuries caused by dangerous products, please visit our Memphis Products Liability page.