PIRG cited government estimates of 1,700 emergency room visits between 2009 and 2011 involving the ingestion of high-powered magnets. Most cases involved children between 4 and 12 years old. Older children have accidentally ingested the balls while trying to mimic tongue piercings. The magnets, such as the ones in the popular Buckyball desktop toys, can cling together if swallowed, pinch internal tissue and lead to serious injuries.
The Toy Industry Association's Stacy Leistner says his group agrees that strong magnets are a risk for children and should not be available to them.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission this summer sued New York-based Maxfield and Oberton, the maker of the Buckyball desktop toys, to stop their sale. The finger-fidget toys are designed for adults, but CPSC said it was seeing too many injuries involving children.
Maxfield has maintained the toys are for adults, marketed to adults and carry clear warning labels — but it announced last month that it would stop making the Buckyball series. CPSC is considering a ban on high-powered magnet sets.