Feds sue to halt Buckyballs sales

Rare-earth magnet desk toys cited as danger to children

Author: Marilyn Moritz, Reporter, mmoritz@ksat.com
Published On: Jul 26 2012 04:26:11 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 26 2012 04:54:03 PM CDT

The Consumer Product Safety Commission sued the makers of Buckyballs to stop the sale of the magnetic toys, saying they are hazardous, especially to children.

At the same time, Consumer Reports has been investigating Buckyballs and other brands of rare-earth magnetic toys and cautions that in the hands and mouths of children, they are potentially deadly.

Two-year-old Braylon Jordan somehow swallowed eight super-strong magnetic balls. The force of the attraction punched through his small intestine, most 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," the boy's mother, Meaghin Jordan, said.

The boys now wears an ostomy bag day and night to catch his waste.

"Braylon is fortunate to be alive," said R. Adam Noel M.D., the boy's doctor. Noel is conducting a nationwide study and said he is seeing an alarming increase in magnet injuries.

Dozens of children have been injured by ingesting the strong magnet galls, according to the CPSC. At least a dozen involved Buckyballs, according to the agency.

While younger children are seen as most at risk, older children use them to mimic tongue and lip piercings and accidentally swallow them, according to Consumer Reports.

While Buckyballs is named in the government complaint, several other companies make similar products, including Zen Magnets, Magnet Balls and  Neocube.

Buckyballs has a warning that states, "keep away from all children, and do not put in nose or mouth."

Consumer Reports said the warnings in other brands can be easily missed, and some have no warnings.

"We are concerned that the warnings on these magnetic balls have not prevented serious injuries in children," said Consumer Reports' Andrea Rock. "We are calling for the removal of these toys from the consumer market."

The company behind Buckyballs maintained taht with warnings and used correctly, rare-earth magnets are safe to sell.