• Buckyballs

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced the recall of approximately three million sets of Buckyballs and Buckycubes high-powered magnets because of a potential design flaw that could prove hazardous to the health of children. By design, the Buckyballs magnets are made up by a number of tiny balls that are obviously held together by their magnetic charges. However, when separated, the magnets could be ingested and pose serious health threats to people, and they could possibly even lead to death.

This recall is peculiar in that while the CPSC has announced it in cooperation with a number of major retail companies, the product’s manufacturer, Maxfield & Oberton Holdings LLC has allegedly refused to participate in the recall. According to the CPSC’s initial announcement on April 12, this is just one of four administrative complaints filed by the commission in 11 years.  It was prompted by approximately 54 reports of ingestion, with 53 of those cases requiring immediate medical treatment.

The problem with these magnets goes well beyond simple choking hazards, though. If two or more of the magnetic balls are ingested, they can attach to each other inside of a child’s intestines, and they can even connect with tissue between them. This can cause the tissue to tear, possibly resulting in sepsis and even death if the problem goes untreated.

The recall will be carried out by retail companies that have previously sold the Buckyball and Buckycubes while the CPSC continues to litigate this matter with the manufacturer. So far, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, Brookstone, Hallmark, Marbles the Brain Store, ThinkGeek and Overstock.com have agreed to recall the magnets. The CPSC and all of these companies are urging consumers to stop using the magnets immediately.

Overstock.com separately announced that the company’s representatives will begin contacting customers who have purchased these magnet sets to issue full refunds or credit. Otherwise, consumers who may have purchased these magnets from any of the other involved retailers can contact them through their websites.