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.
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. He's not allowed to eat anything, so he has to be fed through a tunnel catheter in his chest. And he has to wear an ostomy bag day and night that catches his waste. Still, he is fortunate to be alive. Braylon's doctor, R. Adam Noel, is conducting a nationwide study and says he's seeing an alarming increase in that type of injury.
Several companies sell those rare-earth magnets and advertise online, including Buckyballs, Magnet Balls, Neocube, and Zen Magnets. 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.
Buckyballs has a warning that states "keep away from all children, and do not put in nose or mouth." But Consumer Reports' investigation shows that warnings in other brands of magnet sets could easily be missed. For example, Zen Magnets' warning is buried under several layers and encased in cellophane. And some online retailers do not have any warnings. Toys "R" Us simply touts "endless hours of play."
Consumer Reports is concerned that the warnings on those magnetic balls have not prevented serious injuries in children, and it has calling for the removal of those toys from the consumer market. And Consumer Reports says be aware that older children are using those magnets to mimic tongue and lip piercings and are accidentally swallowing them - suffering serious injuries as well.
Buckyballs' CEO says that with warnings and when used correctly, rare-earth magnets are safe to sell.