In the ongoing battle to prohibit the sale of high-powered magnet sets, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has reportedly received more than 1,200 comments from parents, users, safety advocates, medical professionals, and others expressing opposition or support of the proposed ban.
According to news sources, some individuals called the proposed ban an example of big government, stating that “Such a ban would be yet another example of big government’s encroachment on people’s freedoms,” and others claim that injuries connected with the products are attributable to parental neglect. Some ban supporters evidently relayed stories of witnessing or providing treatment to individuals who had swallowed the powerful magnets, which can pull together and become lodged in the body, posing a risk of harm and possible need for surgical intervention.
Among the comments submitted about the proposed rulemaking were those by the Toy Industry Association, Safe Kids Coalition, Consumer Federation of America, manufacturers of the popular magnetic products, pediatric nurses, and gastroenterologists. One commenter reportedly wrote, “As a pediatric gastroenterologist, I have seen firsthand the dangers of magnet ingestion. There is damage to the GI tract lining within HOURS of ingestion. … There has been a definite increase in the number of these ingestions since manufacturers have popularized these magnet sets.”
The companies that make the products currently have warnings stating, among other things, that they are not for use by children and that they should not be swallowed, but CPSC alleges that the warnings and labeling do not effectively communicate the hazard associated with product ingestion and that it continues to receive reports of injuries involving children’s use of the product. Opponents state that CPSC has not given warning labels and educational campaigns a fair chance in mitigating injuries. See Bloomberg BNA Product Safety & Liability Reporter, December 4, 2012.
In a related development, the commission has apparently succeeded in consolidating two administrative actions against Buckyball® manufacturer Maxfield & Oberton Holdings LLC and its competitor Zen Magnets LLC. A prehearing conference has been scheduled for January 10, 2013. See Federal Register, December 4, 2012.