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Battle over BuckyBalls finally reaches a conclusion

The magnet sets were recalled, sales are illegal, and refunds are available

Published: August 15, 2014 05:25 PM

Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has long warned about the dangers of tiny, powerful magnets used in desk toys such as BuckyBalls, pointing to many cases of children who swallowed these small magnetic balls and had to have surgery to remove them. If ingested, the high-powered magnetic balls and cubes can attract each other inside the body and pierce holes in the internal organs.

In 2012 the Consumer Product Safety Commission filed a complaint against the makers of BuckyBalls, seeking to get the products off the shelves, saying they “contain a defect in the design, packaging, warnings, and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury to the public.”

We praised the CPSC’s strong action, as did the American Academy of Pediatrics, which said products such as BuckyBalls should be removed from the market because the magnets “caused unnecessary surgeries, debilitating injuries, irreversible gastrointestinal damage and other lifelong health impacts in infants, children and adolescents.”

In May, the CPSC officially announced the recall of all BuckyBalls and BuckyCubes high-powered magnets. It is now illegal under federal law for any person to sell, offer for sale, manufacture, distribute, or import into the U.S. any BuckyBalls or Buckycubes magnetic set.

The CPSC recently announced a website where you can request a refund in exchange for the product. To get a refund, your claim has to be filed no later than Jan. 17, 2015. You don’t have to have a receipt, but if you kept it, the CPSC encourages you to include it. Separately, the company Star Networks is recalling the similar magnet products Magnicube Spheres and Magnicube Cubes. You can find more information about the recall of those products at www.magnicube.com.

If you have one of these products, we strongly urge you to stop using it and return it for a refund. If you don’t want to return it, the product should be safely disposed of to prevent any risk of injury, as the CPSC advises.

More information is available from the nonprofit organization Kids In Danger (PDF). The effort to remove BuckyBalls from the marketplace was a drawn-out battle, but we’re pleased that they are no longer for sale, and customers can get their money back.

This feature is part of a regular series by Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports. The nonprofit organization advocates for product safety, financial reform, safer food, health reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.


Read other installments of our Policy & Action feature.


   

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