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Feds Ban 'Buckyballs' Magnets 820

Posted by Soulskill
from the natural-selection-defeated-once-again dept.
SicariusMan writes "Looks like warnings and other precautions were not enough to save Buckyballs Magnets. According to this report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is concerned about the increase in children swallowing the rare earth magnets, and has issued its first stop-sale order in 11 years. Amazon and others have already agreed to stop selling the toys. 'Although the commission issued a safety alert in November, it has received more than a dozen reports since then of children ingesting the magnets, with many requiring surgery, it said. More than 2 million Buckyballs and at least 200,000 Buckycubes, a similar cube-shaped magnet, have been sold in the United States.'"
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Feds Ban 'Buckyballs' Magnets

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:08PM (#40770159)

    Thanks to Woot! I now own several million Buckyball magnets. I was waiting for the rare Earth metal market to skyrocket before cashing in, but this may be my chance. Hello Ebay!

  • Seriously (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:08PM (#40770161)

    What's so special about these magnets?
    Children can swallow any kind of magnet you find in toys.
    It should be up to the parents to ensure the child is old enough not to swallow the damn thing.
    Next up: crayons banned because kids stick them up their nose.

    • Re:Seriously (Score:4, Informative)

      by stanlyb (1839382) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:14PM (#40770275)
      It is not the balls, nor the kids. Even if you swallow some balls, but not at once, you will need to go to the surgery. The problem as i see it, is stupid grown people buying bucky balls and giving them to their kids, who, SURPRISE, swallow them.
      • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @09:32PM (#40772125) Journal

        Even if you swallow some balls, but not at once, you will need to go to the surgery.

        Correct - you will need surgery but nobody has yet died. However if you look at the stats for accidental poisonings in the US [cdc.gov] you will see that there are 41,592 deaths every year. 91% of these are due to drugs which leaves 3,473 deaths every year due to non-drug related poisonings. It is not clear how many of these are due to kids swallowing household chemicals but you have to wonder why there is any need to ban something over 12 surgeries and zero deaths given the number of actual deaths from swallowing things.

    • Re:Seriously (Score:5, Informative)

      by bennomatic (691188) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:38PM (#40770615) Homepage
      These are small and unusually powerful magnets. Swallow one, and then another a half-hour later (or any time before passing the first), and they will pull together, pinching your internal organs, and they'll never come out without invasive surgery.

      A normal magnet, if swallowed, will just pass. And if it's big enough to have the same pull that these rare earth magnets have, it'll be uncomfortable enough during the swallowing that most kids won't do it twice, so that pinching thing likely won't happen.
  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:08PM (#40770163) Journal

    Soon we'll be battling the Buckyball cartels in the streets of America. I say end prohibition now!

  • Nice things (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bananaquackmoo (1204116) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:11PM (#40770205)
    You see? This is why we can't have nice things, Barry!
  • by The Raven (30575) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:13PM (#40770235) Homepage

    I have 7 sets of them. Well... technically about 6.7 sets. It's hard not to lose one here or there when you play with them nearly daily. I'm just glad that I got them now, before the ban... they are my third favorite toy, behind my computer and my phone. I make bracelets out of multiple colors as transient art (lost as soon as they stretch out and get rearranged), play with them on my desk, and use them as temporary tie tacks if I leave my mine at home.

    Yes, tie tack. Don't knock it, it works!

  • How many... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:13PM (#40770237)

    The article states that dozens of children have swallowed the magnets and 12 required surgery. There are over 60M children age 14 and younger in the US. Isn't this a bit of an over-reaction? I'm curious as to how many children have had problems after swalling coins and other items that people may have on their desk (ie paper clips, thumb tacks, etc.)?

    Seems the shootings in Colorado hurt a lot more people, but for some reason, they haven't banned the sale of bullets.

    • Re:How many... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sebastopol (189276) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:19PM (#40770335) Homepage

      "Seems the shootings in Colorado hurt a lot more people, but for some reason, they haven't banned the sale of bullets."

      The makers of BuckyBalls don't have the billions of $$$ of NRA lobbying PAC behind them, otherwise you never would have even heard of the 12 kids requiring surgery...

    • Re:How many... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gweihir (88907) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:51PM (#40770783)

      As I have never heard of this being a specific problem here (Europe), and these Magnets are available, I strongly suspect this is a political stunt that banks on the amazing irrationality of the US population.

      The basic problem is that children of a certain age like to swallow things that are bad for them. Its the parent's responsibility to make sure they do not.

      Come to think of irrationality, the number of children getting killed by improperly secured firearms is much higher. Not there is an item nobody with children should leave lying around. Apparently a significant number of US parents are too dumb to realize this. This looks very much like an education problem to me, not a problem of the objects themselves.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Easy solution. Sell buckyballs as ammo.

  • by Solstice (11486) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:13PM (#40770247)

    Looks like I'll just have to get my kid Lawn Darts for Christmas instead.

  • by f3rret (1776822) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:21PM (#40770363)

    Uranium [amazon.com] and bleach [amazon.com]

    • The "also viewed" list of products on that uranium page leaves some questions. I want to know who out there is simultaneously shopping for uranium, milk, "The 2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China", a UFO detector, fresh whole rabbit, a horse feeder, a David Hasselhoff "best of" CD, and a home testicle self-exam kit.

      The list of products that people actually bought is a little more scary. 3 of those products (iron oxide, aluminum powder, magnesium ribbon) are all you need to make thermit

      • by f3rret (1776822)

        The list of products that people actually bought is a little more scary. 3 of those products (iron oxide, aluminum powder, magnesium ribbon) are all you need to make thermite. Which I guess answers the long-standing question I've had since making thermite in high school about where I can get the ingredients easily. Might as well add a little uranium to the mix and see what happens.

        Yeah I'm sure ordering the ingredients for an incendiary device from Amazon wont get you put on all kinds of fun lists.

  • a nice company, too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by agrif (960591) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:21PM (#40770365) Homepage

    Me and my brother recieved the silver Buckyball cubes as Christmas gifts a few years back. These things are a blast to play with.

    When one of the balls on my brothers set shattered, we called one of the listed numbers for the company to ask about maybe purchasing a replacement ball. The person on the other end was extremely interested in how this happened (apparently they hadn't had a report of a ball shattering before), and offered to send us an entire new set for free. On Christmas day. This was excellent, excellent support for an awesome product.

    It's sad to hear about this.

  • by HexKrak (1716604) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:22PM (#40770367)
    I'm not saying lets kill all the stupid people, I'm just suggesting we remove all the warning labels and let nature sort it out.
  • Zen Magnets (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:25PM (#40770429)

    I think the sales of Zen Magnets are about to increase...

    (For those who don't know, Zen Magnets are *exactly* the same thing as buckyballs except for a very slight increase in quality and price. That would also mean they'd be more dangerous due to higher magnetic strength.)

  • by ilikenwf (1139495) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:26PM (#40770431)
    I've got the nanny state blues, man.
  • by englishknnigits (1568303) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @06:42PM (#40770665)
    I hate our government, seriously. Maybe I should forward the following list to the CPSC. I'm pretty sure most of the items on the list have caused more than 12 cases of choking and/or surgery since November. They've got a lot of banning to do!
    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the following items are common choking hazards:
    Hot dogs and sausages
    Chunks of meat
    Grapes
    Hard candy
    Popcorn
    Peanuts and other nuts
    Raw carrots
    Fruit seeds
    Apple chunks
    Coins
    Toys with small parts
    Small balls and marbles
    Balloons
    Arts and crafts materials
    Ballpoint pen caps
    Watch batteries
    Jewelry
    • by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Thursday July 26, 2012 @03:44PM (#40782509)

      Actually, your link is from 2 years ago. The correct current link is here [cpsc.gov].

      WASHINGTON, D.C. - In an effort to prevent children from suffering further harm, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff filed an administrative complaint today against Maxfield & Oberton Holdings LLC, of New York, N.Y., alleging that Buckyballs and Buckycubes contain a defect in the design, packaging, warnings, and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury to the public. The Commission voted 3-1 to approve the filing of the complaint, which seeks, among other things, an order that the firm stops selling Buckyballs and Buckycubes, notify the public of the defect, and offer consumers a full refund.

      So no, this is not a labeling issue. They already corrected the labeling issue. This is about stopping all sales of Buckyballs. Headline is correct. Posting to undo my upmod of your comment because it turns out you are wrong.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @07:43PM (#40771347)
    For everyone outside the US. Hopefully an over supply will result in lower prices for everyone else at the expense of US citizens, caused by the stupidity of US children and their parents.
  • by amoeba1911 (978485) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @08:13PM (#40771595) Homepage

    To clear up some confusion I found the source on CPSC's own site [cpsc.gov]. It's slightly more informational than the Reuters summary... But I'm still confused.

    I bought tiny fridge magnets from The Container Store that are actually tiny neodymium cubes [containerstore.com], are they banned also? Are they exempt because they're not toys?

    How about just plain neodymium magnets [stanfordmagnets.com] direct from suppliers? Are they banned also or are they exempt because they're not labeled as toys?

    How about a hobby brushless motor kit [hobbyking.com] that comes with neodymium magnets? Is that banned also or is that exempt because even though it's a toy the magnets are supplied with the purpose of installing them in the motor?

    So many unanswered questions... I think it would be easier to require all kids to wear muzzles to keep their mouth closed at all times. It would solve all the issues where kids choke on things or eat poisonous/dangerous materials, and has added benefit of muffling their annoying whiny cries.

  • by sker (467551) on Wednesday July 25, 2012 @09:34PM (#40772147) Homepage Journal
    They can have my Buckyballs when they pry them from my cold, dead.... intestines.

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