Buckyballs Ban: U.S. Files Suit to Stop Sales

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Consumer Product Safety Commission

Last year, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a safety warning about Buckyballs, the high-powered magnetic desktop toys for adults that many young children also find irresistible. Kids end up swallowing the tiny magnets, which can then cluster together and get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract, causing blockage or infection or punching holes through the stomach or intestinal walls.

Even after the safety warning, the CPSC received reports of more than a dozen children swallowing the superstrong magnets; many needed surgery to remove them. Since 2009, when Buckyballs were first introduced, dozens more children and teens have been harmed by ingesting the product. Young children often come across loose magnets left within their reach, on refrigerators, sofas or the floor, for instance — it’s hard for parents to tell when a few tiny pieces are missing from a typical set of 200 — while older kids sometimes use the ball-bearing-type magnets to mimic tongue, nose or cheek piercings and accidentally swallow them.

In a Jan. 2011 case cited by the CSPC, a 4-year-old boy swallowed three Buckyballs magnets “he thought were chocolate candy because they looked like the decorations on his mother’s wedding cake.” The boy suffered perforated intestines.

(MORE: Top 5 Dangerous Objects Kids Like to Swallow)

The safety commission says Buckyballs’ maker, New York City-based Maxfield and Oberton, has refused to recall the products. On Wednesday, the CPSC filed an administrative complaint [PDF] against the company, seeking to stop the sale of Buckyballs and Buckycubes.

“We are deeply disappointed that the CPSC has decided to go after our firm — and magnets in general,” said Craig Zucker, CEO of Maxfield and Oberton, in a company statement. “We find it unfair, unjust and un-American.”

Zucker notes that Buckyballs are marketed exclusively to adults and teenagers age 14 and older and that the company developed a public-awareness campaign about the product’s risks in cooperation with CPSC. The product also carries several warning labels on each box and in the accompanying instructions, cautioning that it is not a toy intended for children.

However, the CPSC contends in its suit that the warnings are ineffective because the magnets are not typically put back into their packaging once they’re removed. The magnets pose a substantial risk of injury, especially to kids, the CPSC argues, because their small size, shiny coating and the unique snapping sound they make when manipulated are “intensely appealing to children.” Given that the packaging itself isn’t child-proof, and that users are unlikely to return Buckyballs or Buckycubes to the box regardless of its design — the products are marketed as a desktop stress-relief toy and usually remain unboxed — the safety commission calls for a ban on sales and distribution and refunds to consumers.

“We will vigorously fight this action,” Zucker said.

(MORE: 10 Dangerous Items You Might Have in Your Home)

The CPSC said it has already persuaded about 10 retailers, including Amazon.com, to stop selling Buckyballs, the AP reports.

The agency offers tips and advice on how to prevent magnet ingestion and what to do if you think your child has swallowed magnets:

  • Keep small magnets away from young children who might swallow the
  • Look out for loose magnet pieces, and regularly inspect toys and children’s play areas for missing or dislodged magnets
  • If you suspect that magnets have been swallowed, seek medical attention immediately
  • Look for abdominal symptoms, such as abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Note that in X rays multiple magnetic pieces may appear as a single object
45 comments
artaman112
artaman112

I would have gone with the "suck my balls" campaign, but I suppose that might be too close to encouraging people to swallow them.

How many children and teenagers were injured by swallowing small pebbles they found on the ground? The world is full of things of similar size and density to small spherical magnets.


the-buckyballs.com

imink
imink

i still have the superball from my youth, and i do remember klik klaks. I had an off-brand. i don’t remember being injured using anything but my bike, so i can’t have been badly hurt playing with toys.

i’ve heard the bucky ball look-alikes are sometimes not labeled clearly, and, of course, there are folks who have toys they’ve long since forgotten the warnings from. Also, older kids sometimes leave things where younger kids who shouldn’t be playing with them can get to them. i think the issue here is the horrible damage done by this “toy” when the little ones do get to them. One could say the same thing about screwdrivers, nuts & bolts, and electrical outlets. Everything looks like a toy to little ones, and they will put things in their mouths. not much you can do except keep close watch. very close watch. http://www.supramagnets.com/

mathwhiz98
mathwhiz98

The government hath failed thee again, Lord Darwin...

TorgIshere
TorgIshere

What happened to taking the warning labels off of everything and letting the stupid ones weed themselves out? Christ.. 12 kids! For the children! What about tabaco? Alcohol? Marijuana has ZERO deaths associated with it's direct use... Dont see that changing anything! It's official! Marijuana is safer than Buckyballs... *face desk*

buckyballmom
buckyballmom

I am the mother of a 9 year old boy who swallowed 4 bucky ball magnets.  Let me start with, I DO NOT think the government should have the right to ban this product. The warning labels on the product clearly state the warning of the possible hazards of this product.  It is the responsibility of us as parents to make appropriate choices in buying products that are safe for our families. However, I would also like to give information on our story. Yes, a 9 year old is clearly old enough to know better that to swallow magnets or anything else that is not food.  That being said, if you have ever been around a 9 year old boy, they do plenty of things the shouldn't.  He was applying the magnets to his tongue and lip pretending they were piercings as he had seen older kids do. At some point he swallowed them and does not even remember the details himself. Yes I watch my kids. No, the magnets were not left in a snack bowl for him to eat. Yes, the magnets were immediately removed from the houshold when we discovered they were not appropriate for our family.  The most important information to get out is there are significant consequences if a child, adult or pet swallows bucky ball magnets. My son suffered a bowel obstruction, 5 perforations in his bowel, peritonitis and pneumonia during his 10 day hospital stay. This was a very hard lesson to learn. Please use this message to educate people. Do not use it to encourage government bans or to crucify the families who have endured this hardship. We already have the hospital bill and a scarred little boy to remind us.

Gato Stevens
Gato Stevens

Ban Magnets not Guns! Another sign of the stupidity of the USA and their citizens.

Joe Berman
Joe Berman

So they want to ban magnet toys because they're too dangerous , but assault rifles are OK...wow.

DorothyP
DorothyP

His mother's wedding cake? Classy.

GEAH
GEAH

More impressive government action from the Obama Administration...friend of business.

Michael Lo
Michael Lo

Irresponsible parents leave guns laying around, kids get injured or killed.  But they can't ban gun sales in the US, so they target Buckyball.  If this ban gets through, I demand everything that is seen in a hardware store be banned too.  You know, just in case if a kid swallows a screw, steps on a nail, plays with a lawnmower.  I mean its all clearly meant for adults but there are no warning labels amirite?

Rett Mincher
Rett Mincher

Sorry USA....can't legislate away stupid, or poor parenting.

gbknits
gbknits

"dozens" of children and teens being harmed does not warrant banning a product that is designed and marketed for adults.   Just ridiculous.

Steve Willis
Steve Willis

Once again, the government decides to over step its boundaries.  This time it's just stupid!  let's go down the list of things that are appealing to children enough to make them put them in their mouths:

Medicine of any kind

Legos

crayons

pebbles

dirt

grass

... you know, come to think of it.... IT'S PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING!!!!!   

 

Children put stuff in mouths, ears, noses... pretty much every hole they can fit it.  Parents need to show some responsibility and police their household better.  If the child gets them from the floor after they were buried into the carpet, guess what?  The answer to that is put the balls up and out of reach, and play with them supervised.  The teens swallowing the balls after pretending they are jewelry?  Well, I chalk that one up to natural selection.

Lucia Matias
Lucia Matias

They should ban everything and put these morons under glass domes... Why don't they ban alcohol sales? More  people (and childen!!!) die in traffic accidents involving inebriated drivers than playing with these toys!

Andy Norris
Andy Norris

So we can't have background checks and databases of folks with assault weapons, but because a few ... flawed ... people eat some magnets, we can't have magnets. Brilliant!!

rar113
rar113

There were several stories this week about kids' killing themselves or family members with guns that they got hold of.  Why don't we ban guns, eh?

KB_Corkless
KB_Corkless

Reminds me of a faux news story on "The Onion" about a toy recall. "For years, countless children played with the Aqua Assault RoboFighter without incident. But then these three retards come along and somehow find a way to get themselves killed. So now we have to do a full recall and halt production on what was a really awesome toy. What a waste."

http://www.theonion.com/articl...

JohnOBX
JohnOBX

Buckyballs don't kill people...

Kristen Rogers
Kristen Rogers

Buckyballs have been marketed as a desk item for offices.  If you have small children, don't give them anything small.  People are so fickle and irresponsible.  If a kid drowns, no one blames the water, do they?

Eric Leschinski
Eric Leschinski

I say we ban those little button batteries next.  Kids die from those all the time, gotta ban em'. Also, Thousands of kids suffer concussions from baseballs every year. Sorry kids, Nationwide BAN on baseballs.

John Mallamas
John Mallamas

I should market a big box of Battlestar Galactica Viper missiles... 

Kurow Akutenshi
Kurow Akutenshi

Welcome to America: Land of irresponsible parents who want to blame everything except themselves. 

marionkiren23
marionkiren23

my buddy's

step-sister makes $71/hour on the computer. She has been without work

for eight months but last month her pay check was $19582 just working on

the computer for a few hours. Here's the site to read more

http://www.LazyCash49.com

SimpleConundrum
SimpleConundrum

"Stop eating shit that doesn't look or taste like food" should be one of many kids first lesson in life. Just because it looks like candy doesn't mean its candy was the saying for me when I was growing up...What the hell happened?

Skye Key
Skye Key

Thousands of kids suffer concussions from baseballs every year. I Don't see the CPSC trying to stop production of baseballs. I guess they are choosing something new like Bucky Balls (magnets are strange and mysterious) to try to earn their pay. 

Starshiprarity
Starshiprarity

You recall a product when it does not act as advertised and poses a threat in excess of its stated warning. Not because people are being stupid with it. Might as well outlaw everything with a wire- don't need anyone accidently wrapping it several times around their neck and pulling.

Dan Mitchell
Dan Mitchell

Just typical.  Stupid parents leave these lying around where a child will eat one and then they blame the product.

foodandart
foodandart

Ooop! time to get to the local toy shop and pick up a few boxes of these..

Anyone remember those clacker balls? I'd give anything to have a set like I did in the late 60's.

SocialTidBits
SocialTidBits

Is'nt Smoking the same.... There are hundred warnings.. Numerous Campaigns... .but what happens is totally different.  Kids still smoke and smoking kills. Its a epidemic and at the most what we have done is won couple of lawsuits, created help hot-lines, done campaigning against smoking etc. The Buckyballs should not be sold to people who have kids at their homes. But no matter however warnings you put.. People ignore them... Cigarette companies are the ones with Billions or dollars and high-level contacts with Lawmakers.... these guys are not Billionaires.. so their Products will be Banned...

chalupa1
chalupa1

More Nanny state. Where are parents?

David Ivey
David Ivey

Oh, please, kids swallow a heck of a lot more pennies than they do this thing marketed to adults. I wonder who the government will sue for the pennies... probably miners, ore refiners, and piggy bank manufacturers.

Megapril
Megapril

Well actually they can, and have... However, this is not buckey balls fault. The idiots that let them loose around little children, and obviously, half-wit teens, are the ones at fault. If the government was to ban stupid people, by my own rough estimate, about 90% of the population would be banned from interacting with the rest of us.

mathwhiz98
mathwhiz98

@Kurow Akutenshi you misspelled 'murica

paulej
paulej

Welcome to America where the government feels it must protect people from themselves. How many people have been hurt by Buckyballs? How many people are hurt by handguns? Shall the CPSC shut down handgun manufacturers  now?

magicbymark
magicbymark

Cigarettes, a fire on one end and a fool on the other.

Megapril
Megapril

I think you mean, parents with young children should not purchase these... Not that they should not be sold to parents with young children. Are you suggesting that for every purchase an adult makes the store should first get proof that they don't have kids younger than the suggested age requirement for each product? That would be a lot of paperwork and liability don't you think? Or maybe, just maybe, parents themselves should be held responsible for their purchasing decisions and how they handle the products they buy... But I hear what you're saying, it's difficult for a store clerk to identify whether a parent is responsible versus being a careless moron. I just don't think it's up to the government to enforce that. People can be stupid and some parents should have never had kids, nothing will ever change that.

Guest
Guest

Pennies aren't magnetic and don't pinch kids' intestines together through flesh.

However, this is a CLEAR warning on the package. The only people to blame in this are parents.

TorgIshere
TorgIshere

Gotta love how you went right for guns...

There are 80million+ gun owners in America. There are about ~1500 accidental deaths from firearms every year. Thats an accidental death rate of 0.0000188 per gun owner. There are 700,000 doctors in this country, and 120,000 accidental deaths due to physicians alone. Th accidental death percentage per physician is 0.171. http://www.naturalnews.com/021...

paulej
paulej

Comparing stats like that, there have been over 500,000,000,000 (billion!) magnets sold by Buckyballs.  There were less than 24 reported incidents.  No deaths, just those needing medical attention.  That would be 0.0000000048% of the balls have caused a problem.  Let's say it is 4x that rate.  What a low rate of incidence, still.  The government is going overboard, but that's what tends to happen when you hire a person to be overly cautious. Meanwhile, what is the death rate due to smoking again?  Driving a car?  Or just crossing the street?