High-powered, rare-earth magnets are attracting the attention from the government, pediatricians and consumer advocates.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission heard testimony Tuesday in Washington in a public hearing as it looks to set standards for the magnets often found in desk toys marketed for adults.
The problem is a growing number of children ingesting them, sometimes causing serious internal injuries.
"If there are two magnets, the biggest concern is sealing part of the intestinal wall," said Dr. Sabrina Perkins, with Methodist Children's Hospital. "It can erode or perforate the bowel."
When multiple magnets are swallowed, they can attract, binding or puncturing the intestine.
The CPSC estimates that between 2009 and 2011, at least 1,700 children were taken to emergency rooms after swallowing magnets.
Small children are not the only ones at risk.
Doctors report seeing cases of older kids and teenagers who have accidentally swallowed the magnets while mimicking tongue piercings.
To crack down on the powerful magnets, the CPSC is looking to set standard limiting the strength of magnets sold in sets or requiring them to be too big to swallow.
The government has already banned some popular products from sale.
Some companies that market the products say the government it going too far.