CPSC Approves Ban of High-powered Magnet Sets
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted 4-0 yesterday to ban high-powered magnet sets, like Buckyballs, which went out of business in 2012. One commissioner was not present for the vote.
The new national safety standard will affect sets—or individual magnets that are marketed or intended for use as a part of a magnet set—and go into effect in 180 days after it is entered into the federal registry, according to the CPSC. At that time, each individual magnet in the set must be large enough so it does not fit into a CPSC small-parts cylinder or the magnetic force must be lower than a specified measure. Some previously available magnet sets had a magnetic force 37 times greater than the new standard permits, the CPSC indicated, urging consumers to stop using high-powered magnets that will not comply with the new federal standard.
"The action that culminated in today’s vote began with incident reports—first a few, then more and finally enough to become a very alarming and disturbing trend," said Elliot Kaye, CPSC chairman, said after the commissioners' voted. " … Unfortunately, the continued prevalence of incidents made pursing a mandatory rule necessary.
With an average of about 200 pieces, but up to 1,700 pieces, these sets are believed to have caused harm when multiple magnets are ingested. In these cases, the magnets attract toward each other and pinch or trap intestines, causing major damage, but remain undetectable to many doctors. The CPSC estimates high-powered magnets were responsible for 2,900 emergency room-treated injuries between 2009 and 2013. They also were responsible for the death of a 19-month-old girl.
"From a consumer product safety perspective, this truly is an important day," Kaye said. "But as I mentioned, it is also a solemn one.
"For me, the action we are taking today is accompanied by the tremendous amount of loss and hurt that many have experienced and still will experience. Many are facing financial loss whether that be as a result of health care costs piling up from treatment to their children injured by these magnets or whether that be a business—and one business in particular who is, in the future, likely to bear the brunt of our regulatory action approved today. Many hurt emotionally whether that be from enduring their child’s suffering from these horrible injuries or whether that be a business owner grappling to accept an entrepreneurial dream that faces possible extinction. … Most heart-wrenching of all—one little girl, Annaka Chaffin, was terribly hurt and lost forever."