The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) ordered Zen Magnets LLC to recall all its high-powered magnet sets because they pose a hazard to children – who can easily swallow them accidentally or intentionally and cause catastrophic injuries and death.
Once swallowed, the small, loose, separable magnets can become attracted to each other in the digestive system, pressing against digestive tissue and requiring surgical removal. If not removed in approximately eight hours, serious injuries and death can result, the CPSC said in a statement.
“Surgery to remove multiple magnets from the gastrointestinal tracts of children has been required, and tragically, a 19-month-old girl died after ingesting similar high-powered magnets.
The safety of the small magnet spheres has been the source of debate for years. In 2012, the CPSC asked about a dozen manufacturers of the magnets to remove them from the market after receiving nearly 3,000 reports of children ending up in the emergency room to remove the magnets after they had linked together inside children who had swallowed them and caused internal injuries. A handful of companies, including Zen Magnets, refused to comply.
The final decision comes just seven months after an administrative law judge ruled that Zen Magnets did not present a substantial product hazard when accompanied by warnings and proper age recommendations. CPSC Chair Ann Marie Buerkle agreed with the judge’s decision to recall a portion of the magnets but disagreed with is assertion that misuse could cause the design defect in the product.
The CPSC said that individual magnets that make up the Zen Magnets sets can easily become separated from each other in numerous way, and the risk the magnets pose after being ingested is not immediately obvious, either, since the products are marketed as toys.