CLEVELAND - The Consumer Product Safety Commission sued the makers of Buckyballs to force it to stop selling its magnetic toys, saying they are hazardous, especially to children.
Consumer Reports has been investigating Buckyballs and other brands of rare-earth magnetic toys and cautions — in the hands and mouths of children — these magnets are potentially deadly.
The filing by CPSC said hundreds of children were injured by Buckyballs.
Two-year-old Braylon Jordan somehow swallowed eight super-strong magnetic balls, which are at least 15 times stronger than traditional magnets. The force of the magnetic attraction punched through Braylon's small intestine — almost all of which had to be surgically removed.
"Braylon isn't allowed to eat anything, so he has to be fed through a tunnel catheter in his chest, " explained his mom Meaghin. Braylon has to wear an ostomy bag day and night that catches his waste. Still, it could have been worse.
Braylon's doctor, R. Adam Noel, is conducting a nationwide study and says he's seeing an alarming increase in this type of injury.
Several different companies sell these rare-earth magnets and advertise online, including Buckyballs, Zen Magnets, Magnet Balls, and Neocube.
"They are fascinating, and sales are through the roof. For example, Buckyballs, which has only been on the market since 2009, claims to have annual sales of more than $25 million," said Andrea Rock of Consumer Reports.
Buckyballs has a warning that states "keep away from all children, and do not put in nose or mouth." Zen Magnets' warning is buried under several layers and encased in cellophane.
But Consumer Reports said that's not good enough.
"We are concerned that the warnings on these magnetic balls have not prevented serious injuries in children, and we are calling for the removal of these toys from the consumer market," warned Rock.
The Jordan's bought the magnets long before they had Braylon and had no idea of the potential danger.
"I would advise parents with everything in me not to buy them at all," said Braylon's mother Meaghin.
Buckyballs' CEO says that with warnings and used correctly, rare-earth magnets are safe to sell. Also be aware that older children are using these magnets to mimic tongue and lip piercings and are accidentally swallowing them — suffering serious injuries as well.