CPSC Issues New Safety Standard for Magnets
September 13, 2022
News recently broke that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has approved a new federal safety standard to prevent children and teens from sustaining potentially life-threatening injuries from accidentally ingesting high-powered magnets. The Commission’s new mandatory standard requires loose or separable magnets in certain products to be either too large to swallow, or weak enough to reduce the risk of internal injuries.
How Magnets Can Be Harmful
The CPSC successfully banned dangerous magnets in toys back in 2014, but the ban was overturned just two years later. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), rare earth or high-powered magnets pose the greatest risk to children when they are sold in sets of 100 or as small magnetic balls or cubes. When kids or teens ingest more than one of these magnets, it can inflict fatal injuries. Magnets can attract to each other (or to other material that attracts magnets) through the child’s internal body tissue, causing perforations, twisting and/or blockage of the intestines, blood poisoning, infection and death.
Despite the risks they carry, magnetic toys are popular gift and activity choices for younger children and teens. Manufacturers sell magnetic construction sets, magnetic building blocks, board games, 3d puzzle cubes, magnetic alphabet sets and thousands of other products that contain high-powered magnets. But, according to the CPSC, emergency departments have treated more than 26,000 cases of magnet ingestion from 2010 to 2021. Even more concerning is that the number of cases has risen steadily since 2018, largely in part due to the CPSC’s 2014 magnet ban being overturned by the courts.
What Types of Products are Included in the CPSC’s New Rule?
So far, the CPSC is aware of seven deaths linked to the accidental ingestion of hazardous magnets, most of which likely involved magnetic sets. Two of the deaths occurred outside of the United States. The Commission passed the new safety standard in a unanimous 5-0 vote, noting that the products subject to the new ruling pose an unreasonable risk of injury and that less drastic measures have proved ineffective at mitigating the dangers they pose in the past. The new federal rule applies to the following:
- Consumer products that manufacturers design, market or sell to be used for entertainment, jewelry (including children’s jewelry), stress relief, mental stimulation, or a combination of these purposes
- Products that contain one or more loose, separable magnets
- Products containing loose or separable magnets must manufacture them either too large for individuals to swallow or weak enough to reduce the risk of sustaining major bodily injuries
- Products that contain magnets that can fit into a small parts cylinder must have a flux index of less than 50 kG2 mm2. The flux index rating measures the intensity of the magnetic field
It is important to note that the CPSC’s rule does not apply to toys that are for children under 14-years-old, since the Commission’s mandatory toy standard 16 CFR part 1250 already covers such products. It also does not include products that are sold or distributed solely to school educators, professionals, researchers, and/or commercial or industrial users exclusively for educational, research, professional, commercial, and/or industrial purposes.
Ways to Protect Your Children from Magnet-Related Injuries
The AAP strongly urges parents and caregivers of young children to keep high-powered magnet sets out of their homes. Here are some other important tips on how to protect your children from the Academy:
- If you have any rare earth magnets in your home, discard them. Rare earth magnets were first developed in the 1970s and 1980s. They are the strongest type of permanent magnets, producing significantly stronger magnetic fields than magnets that are made from other elements, like alnico or ferrite
- Supervise young children carefully when anyone is using magnets
- If you choose to keep products containing rare earth or high-powered magnets in your home, make sure to keep them out of the reach of young children. The best option is to lock them away in a container in a high or hidden location
- Put magnets away promptly after using them and check to make sure there are none left on the floor or anywhere else a child can find them
- If your child has toys with magnets, check often for cracks where a magnet could come loose
- Do not purchase magnets in large sets, because it is too difficult to determine if any go missing
- Talk to your older children and teens about the serious dangers that come with using fake magnetic piercings in their mouths or noses. These fake magnetic piercings are usually made with high-powered magnets and they can easily be accidentally swallowed or inhaled. They can also cause injuries by pinching skin
The primary symptoms of magnet ingestion to watch out for abdominal pain, vomiting and fever. If you suspect that your child has ingested a magnet, contact your pediatrician or the closest emergency department immediately. In some cases, children need surgical repair.
When to File a Products Liability Lawsuit
Although they have a legal obligation to produce and sell safe products, manufacturers, suppliers and sellers distribute thousands of unsafe products that injure innocent consumers every year. Children and teens are particularly susceptible to sustaining product-related injuries. If a product causes an injury due to an unsafe design, manufacturing defect, malfunction, or the failure to provide proper instructions and warnings, the injured party should file a products liability lawsuit. If a manufacturer fails to comply with federal regulations, like the CPSC’s newly-implemented ruling, the victim should also file a claim for damages.
Litigating a products liability lawsuit is a complicated process. At Galfand Berger, our attorneys have been tirelessly fighting for their injured clients for over seven decades. If your child was injured by a product containing a high-powered or rare earth magnet, an attorney at our firm can help. To learn more, please contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
If you have a question about filing a legal claim, contact the Philadelphia products liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.