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Johns Hopkins Reports Rise in Magnet Toy Injuries

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An emerging Johns Hopkins report indicates a rise in magnet toy injuries to children. According to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, ingestion of mini, rare earth magnets is increasing and posing health issues for children, said WALB.

Meanwhile, noted WALB, U.S. consumer advocates are fighting to have the magnets banned, pointing out that smaller magnets—Zen Magnets and BuckyBalls, for instance—while marketed for older children or adults, are causing problems in younger children. The dangerous, rare earth magnets are small and circular, and so powerful that they can find themselves inside a body if they are ingested, which can lead to significant internal injury.

“They can actually pinch off the stomach or the bowels, and they can create holes in the intestine,” Dr. Maria Oliva-Hemker, chief of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, told WALB. She said that the Center has treated a number of cases

The CPSC is looking to ban sales of high-powered magnets—unless the products fall below a specific strength level—citing a notice of proposed rulemaking drafted by Commission members. Before a final rule can be issued, the Commission must find that it is “reasonably necessary to eliminate or reduce an unreasonable risk of injury associated with such product” and that issuing the rule is in the public interest,” according to Law 360.

Meanwhile, the CPSC recently filed two lawsuits, seeking to stop the sales of Buckyballs and Zen Magnet Rare Earth Magnet Balls toys. Although there have been numerous recalls and warning campaigns, the Commission notes that children of all ages continue from serious health effects following ingestion of these dangerous magnets. According to the CPSC draft proposal, said NewsInferno, some 1,700 magnet ingestions from magnet sets were treated in emergency departments from January 1, 2009 through December 31, 2011.

The magnets that would be covered by the proposed rule are involve a number of high-powered identical, spherical, or cube-shaped magnets that are about three to six millimeters, Most are made from NdFeB (Neodymium-Iron-Boron or NIB), which are touted to adults as brain development toys and puzzles and used to create two- and three-dimensional objects. Some sets may include up to 216 very small, but high-powered magnets.

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