OnSafety is the Official Blog Site of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Here you'll find the latest safety information as well as important messages that will keep you and your family safe. We hope you'll visit often!


Retailers Recall Buckyballs and Buckycubes

Do you have these at home?

Buckyballs sets

Six retailers are voluntarily recalling all Buckyballs and Buckycubes high-powered magnet sets that they sold. CPSC staff alleges that the magnets pose a substantial risk of injury and death to children and teenagers.

The retailers involved with today’s recall are:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Brookstone
  • Hallmark
  • Marbles the Brain Store
  • ThinkGeek

These retailers have agreed to participate in the recall because Maxfield & Oberton, the importer of the magnets has refused to participate in the recall of all Buckyballs and Buckycubes.

CPSC began rulemaking in late August to address the serious risks posed by hazardous high-powered magnet sets.

In July 2012 CPSC staff filed an administrative complaint against Maxfield & Oberton after discussions with the company and its representatives failed to result in a voluntary recall plan that CPSC staff considered to be adequate to address the very serious hazard posed by these products. This type of legal action against a company is rare, as this is only the fourth administrative complaint filed by CPSC in the past 11 years.

If you bought these magnet sets from any of the retailers listed above, please contact the retailer for a remedy. All of the retailer contact information is included in this news release.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2013/04/retailers-recall-buckyballs-and-buckycubes/

Magnet Rulemaking: How You Can Be Involved

Blog en español

Updated: Sept. 4, 2012

In late August, CPSC voted to begin rulemaking to address the serious risks posed by hazardous, high-powered magnet sets. You will have 75 days to comment to the agency about the rulemaking. Your comments are due to CPSC by Nov. 19.

CPSC staff briefed the commission about the magnet hazards at an open meeting on Thursday, Aug. 9.

Between 2009 and 2011, our staff estimates that there were 1,700 cases treated in hospital emergency rooms nationwide related to the ingestion of small, high powered magnets. More than 70 percent of these cases involved children between the ages of 4 and 12.

The agency’s staff is proposing a rule that addresses the size and strength of the magnets. Under the proposed rule, magnets that fit in a small parts tester would be required to have a flux index of 50 or less. Many of the high-powered magnets in the sets sold today, by comparison, are many times stronger.

Magnet sets that do not meet the new requirements could not be sold as a manipulative or a desk toy.

CPSC has published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register. (FR). Now that the proposed rulemaking has published, your opportunity to comment begins. Here’s where you can share your comments about this proposed rule. Your comments must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. ET on Nov. 19.

Rulemaking comments are submitted through the government website Regulations.gov. We will publicize the Federal Register notice and the link to comment on our website, our @OnSafety Twitter account, and in this blog.

We continue to encourage everyone to read the information on our magnet information page. Watch the video. Keep these magnets away from all children and out of homes with children. For us, it’s about keeping kids safe.

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2012/08/magnet-rulemaking-how-you-can-be-involved/

Small High-Powered Magnets: A Very Serious Hazard to Children

Blog en español

Small high-powered magnets swallowed by children are like a bullet hole in the body with no entry or exit wound, say doctors who have surgically removed magnets from children’s bodies.

When these individual magnets are ingested, they connect inside the body. The bonds are so strong that the magnets clamp digestive organ tissue together and tear holes at the contact points. The resulting injuries are horrific and life-altering. The surgeries to remove the magnets are time consuming and expensive.

High-powered magnets that connect in a child’s body are a serious injury, or even a death, waiting to happen. We are not willing to stand back and wait for these incidents to keep occurring before acting.

Doctors say that time is of the essence when treating these injuries. Yet, the symptoms can be vague—typical of a stomach virus. Unless you KNOW that a child has swallowed magnets, you might think your child has a stomach bug.

A marble, a coin and other small nonmagnetic things can pass through a child’s body. A doctor’s plan when a child swallows something is typically to watch and wait. This approach often works for nonmagnetic products. In the case of high-powered magnets, however, watch and wait can be life-altering. Watch and wait means that the injury has time to worsen.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has alerted pediatricians to the dangers of magnet ingestions. And the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition issued an alert and podcast series for doctors about the “dangers of neodymium magnet ingestion in pediatric patients.” Texas pediatric gastroenterologist Bryan Vartabedian, writes in his blog that emerging data from doctors shows that the number of cases have been under-reported.

We encourage everyone to read the information on our magnet information page. Watch the video. Keep these magnets away from all children and out of homes with children.

(Watch on YouTube.)

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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2012/08/small-high-powered-magnets-a-very-serious-hazard-to-children/

High-Powered Magnets + Swallowing by Kids = Deadly

A clump of little round magnets can relieve stress. They are addictive to play with. Just ask anyone who has held them. Folks, they are for adults only – really!

High-powered magnets pose a serious risk to children. These magnets are so powerful that tweens and teens are using them to create jewelry, such as nose and tongue piercings or studs. So, when you manage to wrangle a conversation out of your teens, make sure they know what their bodies look like with magnets trapped inside.

Magnets inside the body

Magnets inside the body


Better yet, show them this video:

To watch this video in Adobe Flash format, you may need to download the Adobe Flash player. You can also watch the video on YouTube.

(Watch on YouTube.)

CPSC has received 22 reports of magnet incidents involving children between the ages of 18 months and 15 years old since June 2009. In 11 incidents, the magnets had to be removed by surgery. When a magnet has to be removed surgically, it also can require repairing the child’s damaged stomach and intestines.

Reports of incidents have increased since 2009. CPSC has reports of a single incident in 2009, seven in 2010 and 14 through October 2011.

Here’s just one example of an incident:

A four-year-old boy from Hawaii swallowed magnets while vacationing in Boston. The magnets were bought for him for the travel. The boy’s mom said the toy kept him quietly occupied during their long trip. When asked why he put the small magnets in his mouth, the boy replied that the magnets resembled the small chocolate balls on his mom’s cake. He wanted to see if they tasted the same. The boy became ill during the last few days of the family’s vacation. His parents thought he had the flu. He became violently ill on the flight home. Upon arrival in Hawaii, an ambulance was standing by to rush him to the hospital. The three magnets perforated his intestines and had to be surgically removed.

There have been many more news reports online, including seven reportedly treated in a San Diego hospital between January and June (Source: San Diego Momfia) (Note: CPSC does not investigate every media report we hear about.)

Doctors in La Jolla, Calif., were so concerned about children swallowing magnets that they held a news conference earlier this year to warn of the dangers after reportedly doing surgery on a 12-year old to remove eight magnets. (Source: La Jolla Patch) And in Denver, an 8-year-old reportedly swallowed 20 magnets and ended up with 5 to 6 holes in his intestines and one in his stomach, according to Fox 31-TV. [Blog Update: KDVR removed this story from their website after this blog was published.]

Here’s the message to your tweens and teens: These magnets aren’t for you to play with or use in your mouth as jewelry!

Tiny, rare-earth magnets look like this:

High-powered magnets

They are intended to be desk toys and stress relievers for adults, who can use them to create patterns and build shapes. The products are often sold in sets of 200 or more and are labeled for ages 14 and older. It is extremely difficult for a parent to know if a magnet is missing from a set.

They are not intended to be used to mimic teenage body piercings.

Here’s what you can do to avoid a magnet swallowing injury:

  • Keep small magnets and small pieces containing magnets away from young children who might swallow them.
  • Look out for loose magnet pieces – regularly inspect toys and children’s play areas for missing or dislodged magnets.

If you suspect that magnets have been swallowed:

  • Seek immediate medical attention.
  • 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.
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This address for this post is: http://www.cpsc.gov/onsafety/2011/11/magnet-dangers/