Buckyballs and Buckycubes are strong, small, rare earth magnets that are marketed as desk toys for adults that are fun to fidget with and have been known to relieve stress. However, according to a press release by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), children are swallowing these magnets, and the consequences are severe.
When the small magnets get in the hands of a child and they are swallowed, the magnets can attract to each other causing damage to the intestinal walls. The result can be serious injuries, such as small holes in the stomach and intestines, intestinal blockage, blood poisoning and even death. Surgery is most likely required to remove the magnets or small pieces of magnet.
The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that a 3-year-old Oregon child underwent surgery to remove 37 magnets the girl had swallowed and snapped together inside her stomach, resembling a bracelet. She is expected to recover after repair to the tears in her lower intestine and stomach. Last year, a sixth-grader in California underwent surgery after swallowing eight of the magnets.
After learning of the injuries to the 3-year-old child, the company is once again warning consumers that the magnets are not toys. The company provides a video on their website to remind its “fans and customers that Buckyballs and Buckycubes are NOT toys and are NOT for children.” The company also adds that there are five similar warnings on the boxes of the products and warnings on its website and at retailer stores where Buckyballs and Buckycubes are sold.
The Buckyballs magnets were voluntarily recalled by the company in May 2010 after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warned of a swallowing hazard to young children.
The CPSC reports it has received 22 incidents involving the magnets and children from June 2009 to October 2011. 17 of the incidents involved magnet ingestion and 11 required surgical removal of the magnets.
“We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent looking magnets,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum in the press release. “The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard and know how to treat a child in distress..
The CPSC reports that young teens use the magnets to mimic tongue piercings, and issued a video alerting children and young teens of the dangers of swallowing the magnets. The video is made by a child and is meant to appeal to children explaining what can happen if the magnets are swallowed.
Buckyballs released the following statement on its website:
“Buckyballs was saddened to learn that a 3-year old girl in Oregon had swallowed high-powered magnets but we are relieved that she is expected to make a full recovery. This unfortunate incident underscores the fact that Buckyballs and Buckycubes are for adults. They are not toys and are not intended for children. We urge all consumers to read and comply with the warnings we place on all our products, on our website and in stores. Please keep these products out of the hands and reach of all children.”