Ingestion of high-powered, rare earth magnets (or neodymium magnets) represents a child health safety threat. About half of all children who swallow these super strong magnets will require surgery for removal, and roughly a one-third will suffer bowel perforations. Others will suffer severe injury with life-long complications.
For more than a decade NASPGHAN has been leading national regulatory and legislative efforts to protect children from the hazards of high-powered magnets.
In September 2014, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) took an important public safety step when it issued a rule restricting the sale of small, powerful rare earth magnets sold in sets. The rule was in response to children ingesting these magnets causing serious damage to the gastrointestinal tract, or even death. According to the CPSC's own estimates, thousands of otherwise preventable injuries have occurred in children due to these high-powered magnet sets.
A 2016 court decision vacated the CPSC rule and remanded the issue back to the agency for further action. A separate court decision later vacated the CPSC recall order. Today, high-powered magnet sets are being sold without restriction in the United States, resulting in a dramatic increase of ingestion injuries among children.
There is an urgent need for the CPSC to re-instate a strong safety standard that would effectively ban in the United States the sale of high-powered magnets that are intended, marketed, or commonly used as a manipulative or construction item for entertainment, such as puzzle working, sculpture building, mental stimulation, or stress relief.