(Consumer Reports) - Tiny super-strong rare-earth magnets sold as toys were banned several years ago, but now some are back on the market, landing kids in emergency rooms. The reason they’re getting hurt? Children are swallowing the powerful balls, which can pull together inside the intestines, causing life-threatening injuries. Consumer Reports has more.
Children are swallowing powerful magnet balls, which can pull together inside the intestines, causing life-threatening injuries. (Consumer Reports)
They’re not just any magnets: Rare-earth magnets can be 30 times stronger than ordinary refrigerator magnets. They have an exceptionally strong magnetic field for their size and can be difficult to separate.
These really strong magnets, if swallowed, can pinch together, break through the intestinal tract lining, and cause serious trauma.
This type of magnet was banned in 2014. But in 2016 a panel of federal judges voted 2 to 1 to rescind the ban, and the magnets started appearing on store shelves again.
Back in 2016, the number of ingestions reported was 281. But that rose to an estimated 1,666 in 2019.
Now that these products are much more readily available, parents should be vigilant about protecting their kids. Educate them about the hazards, and certainly if you have young ones, avoid having the magnets at home.
The Toy Association says these rare-earth magnets are designed and sold as adult stress-relievers and desk products, and they aren’t intended to be used as children’s toys.
But as emergency room data show, children are still coming in contact with them.
Consumer Reports strongly urges parents to use extreme caution with these magnets and recommends that you avoid having them if there are children in your home.