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Magnetic Toys

In recent years, as the magnet has grown in popularity, it has been used in toys, jewelry, building sets, and other objects geared towards children to create new and exciting products. The fascinating force behind a small object can hold a child’s attention for hours. A number of different toys on the market contain magnets inside of the toys.

Magnetic toys are used by children of all ages. However, children under the age of 6 are more susceptible to the dangers associated with toys containing small magnets.

Dangers of Magnetic Toys

The small magnets located in many toys and building sets can pose a number of risks to children. If the magnets are swallowed, serious injuries, complications, and even death can result. If a child swallows more than one magnet, or a magnet and a metal component, extreme damage can be done to the intestines if the two attract to each other through the intestinal walls. Possible injuries from swallowing two or more magnet include: twisting and blockage of the intestines, infection, perforations in the walls of the intestines, blood poisoning, and even death. The only way the magnets can be removed if swallowed is through surgery.

Defects of Magnetic Toys

Serious injuries and death occurring in connection with magnetic toys is due largely to defective manufacturing of the products containing the magnets. Poor construction of a magnetic toy can lead to the breakage of the product, dislodging small magnets that may be played with and swallowed by young children. The faulty manufacturing of these toys can pose a serious risk to children. The Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled a number of major name brand magnetic toys as a result of defective construction in the design.

The CPSC recommends manufacturers of magnetic toys ensure that the magnetic components placed inside of the toys be too large for a child to swallow. A small parts cylinder is used in the screening of toys for choking hazards in children under the age of 3. The magnetic part being placed inside of a toy should not be capable of fitting in to this cylinder. In addition, the CPSC states that toys containing magnets should be designed and constructed of sturdy, durable materials that will ensure the magnet stays firmly in place inside of the component. Tests to check product durability, such as an impact test or lifetime cycling test may be implemented. In addition, the packaging of all magnetic toys should contain a warning label written in the American Society for Testing and Materials suggested language. It is highly suggested by the CPSC that all toys manufactured for children under the age of 14 meet these recommendations.

Injury and Death Statistics

Since 2005, there have been a total of 86 injuries and one death connected to magnetic toys.

A 20-month-old boy swallowed magnets that twisted his small intestines, creating blockage, and ultimately, causing his death.

A 5-year-old boy required surgery to remove two magnets from his lung. In addition, three other children required surgery and extensive hospital care as a result of perforations on the intestinal wall caused by swallowing magnets. Many other children have required surgery and hospital care to remove magnets that were swallowed as a result of faulty manufacturing in magnetic toys.

Recalls on Magnetic Toys

Many magnetic toys have been recalled since 2005. Some examples of these toys include:

  • Magtastik and Magnetix Jr. Pre-School Magnetic Toys

Approximately 1.1 million units of these magnetic toys were recalled by MEGA Brands America Inc., of Livingston, New Jersey. The magnets located in the vehicles, animals, and building sets may detach, posing a serious risk to young children who may swallow the magnets. Reports received by MEGA Brands included a 3-year-old-boy who had to have a magnet surgically removed from his nasal cavity, and one report of an 18-month-old who had a magnet in his mouth. These toys contain flexible parts that allow them to connect to metal bars through a magnet embedded in the part. The toys were manufactured in China and sold in stores across the nation such as Wal-mart, Toys “R” Us, and Target between January 2005 and December 2007.

  • Barbie and Tanner play sets

Mattel Inc. recalled approximately 683,000 Barbie and Tanner play sets as a result of three reports in which the magnet located inside the “scooper” accessory dislodged. The recalled “scooper” accessory was included in Barbie and Tanner play sets having model numbers J9472 and J9560. In the recalled models, the scooper contains a visible silver magnet on the end. The toy was manufactured in China and imported by Mattel Inc., of El Segundo, California. The Barbie and Tanner play set sold in toy stores and other retailers throughout the nation from May 2006 to August 2007.