Photo source: CPSC

With an eye toward protecting consumers -- especially young children, tweens, and teens – the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has approved a new national safety standard for high-powered magnet sets.

These sets are hazardous to young children, who have put them in their mouths and swallowed them, They also pose a serious risk to teens and tweens, who have used them to create mock lip, tongue and nose piercings.

Serious injuries possible

Hazardous magnet sets include, on average, approximately 200 magnets, although some have up to 1,700 magnets. If multiple magnets are swallowed, the magnets attract each other, pinching or trapping intestines or other digestive tissue between them. The result can be a serious injury that requires surgery and can lead to lifelong health consequences or death.

High-powered magnet sets were found to be responsible for the death of a 19-month-old girl and, according to CPSC analysis, an estimated 2,900 emergency room-treated injuries between 2009 and 2013. The agency concluded that the safety standard is necessary to address the unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with these magnet sets.

New standard

Under the new CPSC performance standard, an individual magnet from a magnet set either must be large enough that the magnet does not fit into a CPSC small parts cylinder or the power of the magnetic force must be lower than a specified measure. Certain hazardous magnet sets that were previously in the marketplace had a magnetic force that was 37 times greater than what the new performance standard permits.

The rule applies to high-powered magnet sets and to individual magnets that are marketed or intended for use as part of a magnet set. Once the safety standard becomes effective, the manufacture, importation, distribution or sale of high-powered magnet sets that are subject to the federal standard and do not comply will be illegal.

CPSC urges consumers to stop using those magnets that will not comply with the new federal standard.

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