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Federal regulators warn against magnets as desk toys for kids

Bryan Alaspa's picture

Members of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are warning parents about small, round, metal magnets that are being sold as desk toys because of a safety hazard.

The magnets are sold to adults and are comprised of dozens and dozens of small, round magnetic balls that can be removed and re-arranged to form a bunch of different shapes. They are marketed as stress relievers and desktop-sized toys.

According to the Chicago Tribune, however, federal regulators say that there have already been deaths and problems in conjunction with children swallowing the small magnets. The small metal balls can become stuck in the stomach or stomach lining and wear small holes in the stomach and intestines. This can lead to intestinal blocking and blood poisoning.

According to the U.S. CPSC, there have been 17 reported incidents where the tiny magnets were swallowed by children, since 2009. Of those, 11 required surgery to remove the magnets.

This is not the first time a toy involving magnets has been found to pose a risk to children. Back in 2007 aspirin-sized magnets from a toy called Magnetix caused the death of a toddler named Kenny Sweet. At that time it was shown that dozens of others had also been injured and hospitalized after swallowing the magnets. Many of them suffered intestinal damage.

Once that incident came to light, new standards were put into place for magnetic toys. Toys meant for children under the age of 14 were to be free of magnets that are loose and small enough to be swallowed.

The problem is the desktop toys such as those described in this latest statement from the CPSC are sold to adults, but often left within reach of children.

The CPSC also warned of some adults and teenagers who have placed two of the powerful magnets on opposite sides of earlobes, tongues and other body parts to tray and mimic piercings. This has led to some of the magnets being swallowed by these adults and teenagers and some of those have led to surgery and illness.

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