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Statement of Commissioner Mary T. Boyle on Vote to Issue a Final Rule on Safety Standard for Magnets

September 07, 2022

Today, the Commission voted unanimously to approve a new federal safety standard for small, powerful magnets to protect children from the devastating injuries, and even death, that can occur as a result of ingesting these products.  I am pleased that my fellow Commissioners all joined in approving this important rule, and I extend my deep appreciation to the CPSC staff who worked tirelessly not only to bring this rulemaking to fruition but for their dedication to this issue for well over a decade. As a result, lives will be saved and devastating injuries will be avoided. 

What we do at CPSC makes a difference.  The use of our regulatory authority makes a difference. 

And, if there were ever any doubt, the tragic history of magnet injuries to infants, toddlers, and teens over the course of the past 15 years or so surely proves that. The injury trends that occurred before, during, and after the agency’s first magnet rulemaking are eye opening.  For the period 2010 through 2013, before announcement of the magnet sets rule, CPSC estimated that there were approximately 2300 magnet ingestions treated annually in emergency departments.  

That number dropped to 1300 from 2014 through 2016, which corresponds to the year the rule was announced and in place.  After the rule was vacated, that number shot back up to approximately 2400 from 2017 through 2021.  

The rule we adopted today will make a difference. It will make a difference to infants and toddlers who, as we all know, put things in their mouths in the normal course of development.  It will make a difference to older children and teens who experiment with piercings.  It will make a difference to families who would be devastated by magnet ingestion injuries to their children, which can be lifelong and life altering and even fatal.  It will make a difference to a severely burdened health care system that treats these patients. 

Through our action today, we reaffirm our commitment to protecting the most vulnerable among us—children—from this unique hidden hazard.  More than a decade ago, CPSC staff identified magnet ingestions as an emerging and urgent issue and presented persuasive data on the need to act.  We acted today because the devastating injuries to children demand such action.  While I certainly would have preferred that the agency’s first magnet rulemaking remain in place, I am gratified that the Commission used its regulatory authority to act today so that, once again, we can see a downward trend in these horrific injuries.

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