The Consumer Product Safety Commission has approved a new rule endorsed by Consumers Union to ban dangerous magnets that have sent thousands of kids to the emergency room.
CPSC commissioners voted on September 24 for a tough, new standard that will make these magnets safer, and it will prevent the sale of unsafe magnets that CU and other groups have been pushing to remove from the marketplace.
The CPSC voted 4-0 in favor of the rule, with one commissioner abstaining. Thousands of CU activists wrote the members of the commission, asking them to vote “yes.”
This is a real victory for children’s safety. These are not the usual, run-of-the-mill refrigerator magnets. They are tiny, super-strong magnets used in desk toys such as Buckyballs and Magnicubes. They can pose a deadly threat to children when swallowed or inhaled. The magnets look like candy, and when ingested, they are so powerful they can tear holes in the child’s stomach or intestine.
USA Today and the New York Times recently reported on the death of a 19-month-old girl whose autopsy showed magnets in her small intestine. Reports said the magnets had become attached, cutting off the blood supply to the girl’s stomach and killing her.
For years, manufacturers resisted efforts by the CPSC to get these products off the shelves. Some magnets were recalled, but others remained on sale.
This CPSC rule caps a long battle fought by the commission, pediatricians and consumer advocates. Under this rule, these magnets are prohibited, unless they are large enough to not fit through a cylinder tube used to test choking hazards, or if they only have a small fraction of the strength found in the recalled products.
We applaud the CPSC for this vote, and we thank all of you who sent personal messages to the commissioners to urge them to vote “yes.”