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Six Retailers Announce Recall of Buckyballs and Buckycubes 343

Posted by Soulskill
from the first-world-natural-selection dept.
thereitis writes "The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in cooperation with six retailers, is announcing the voluntary recall of all Buckyballs and Buckycubes high-powered magnet sets due to ingestion hazard. CPSC continues to warn that these products contain defects in the design, warnings and instructions, which pose a substantial risk of injury and death to children and teenagers. An administrative complaint has been filed which is rare, as CPSC has filed only four administrative complaints in the past 11 years." This follows last year's ban on buckyballs.
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Six Retailers Announce Recall of Buckyballs and Buckycubes

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  • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red_Chaos1 (95148) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @02:21AM (#43444675)

    Why does this even need a warning? If you're too stupid not to understand to either A) not ingest these, or B) not give them to someone not old enough to know better, then by all means, swallow them all, then go get an MRI.

    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @02:44AM (#43444711)
      If you swallowed them all, you'd be fine. The way I described it to my wife is, eat one. Wait between 1 hour and 6 hours and eat another. Don't see a doctor for abrominal pain, and there's a reasonable chance you'll die. Multiples at once will not cause an issue. One a day will not cause an issue.

      My 5 year old gets to play with my set, but the 3 year old (who doesn't eat toys) has close supervision, especially since these look like dragee, candy he has had before.

      The problem is that a proper warning is hard when everything is deadly already. I'm surprised bottled water doesn't come with a DHMO warning label. When everything has a warning on it, adding a real warning to something that looks safe doesn't have proper effect. People don't read warnings when everything comes with 100 warnings.
      • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @02:47AM (#43444723) Journal

        People don't read warnings when everything comes with 100 warnings.

        Very good point. Or they read them and laugh.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:03AM (#43444777)

          Reminds me of a warning I saw on a treadmill recently. "Cease use immediately and consult a physician if you experience any of these symptoms: dizzyness, light headedness or shortness of breath."

          On a treadmill? Really?!

          • by AK Marc (707885) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @04:09AM (#43444933)
            53% of slashdotters get shortness of breath looking at a treadmill.
            • by c0lo (1497653)

              53% of slashdotters get shortness of breath looking at a treadmill.

              Other 46.0% will get dizzy - the remaining 1% are in army service [slashdot.org] or are girls-in-training (with or without bra).
              None of them will get light-headed though: being predisposed to such symptoms runs counter to being a /.-er.

          • by berashith (222128)

            I always laugh at that too. If I actually achieve my goals of exercise then I should stop exercising?

        • I have in my shopping bag a slice of fish labeled 'contains fish' and a yogurt labeled 'contains milk product.' I've also seen peanut butter with a 'contains nuts' warning, but not recently.

          • by jbengt (874751)
            To be sure, it is amusingly redundant to warn about the food containing fish when buying packaged fish, but it is far easier to write general requirements for labeling then to write all the possible exceptions.
            It is, however, actually a good idea to warn when a jar of peanut butter might contain nuts, as peanuts are legumes, not tree nuts, and not all those allergic to nuts are allergic to peanuts.
          • I have in my shopping bag a slice of fish labeled 'contains fish' and a yogurt labeled 'contains milk product.' I've also seen peanut butter with a 'contains nuts' warning, but not recently.

            I agree that the above examples are stupid, but I am generally in favor of the allergy warnings. One of my kids was allergic to all dairy products for a while (he grew out of it, which is common), and it saved me from having to read every ingredient, and also having to remember some oddball ingredients that happen to be dairy.

            Pop Quiz:
            Which of the following ingredients are definitely or likely dairy, and which are not dairy?

            • Lecithin Oleoresin
            • Ammonium Caseinate
            • Milk Thistle
            • Whey Protein Hydrolysate
            • Recaldent
            • Glu
      • No, you would not be fine. Swallowing these magnets are bad because they have a tendency attract each other via adjacent track of intestine. They pinch together with such force that necrosis occurs. This is bad mmm k.

        • by uncqual (836337)

          Did you miss that if you eat them all at once, they will stick together in one clump and therefore none would be in an "adjacent track of intestine". Although, I would think that just having a, effectively solid, chunk of indigestible material the size of several buckyballs may be a problem in of itself.

          • by dbIII (701233)
            That's assuming that the lump can make it around any bends without getting stuck - a really big and very stupid assumption. Next up, clearing bowel blockages with liquid mercury - obviously no problem so long as it never gets stuck anywhere (the answer in the back of the book is it did and people died from necrosis that way long before poisoning could kill them).
          • by N Monkey (313423)

            Did you miss that if you eat them all at once, they will stick together in one clump and therefore none would be in an "adjacent track of intestine". Although, I would think that just having a, effectively solid, chunk of indigestible material the size of several buckyballs may be a problem in of itself.

            Not if you test first [therevcounter.co.uk] like the monkey ;-)

          • by arth1 (260657)

            Kids swallow objects; that's nothing new. I'm sure that most people here swallowed a coin or a marble or a pen parts or other indigestibles much larger than a few buckyballs.
            I swallowed a rod magnet myself as a kid. No problems.

            The danger of the buckyballs is (apart from idiots who let kids they're responsible for play with dangerous objects unsupervised) pinching. Not blockage.

            Anyhow, I feel this crusade against buckyballs is misplaced. No kids have died from them. None. And they're not sold as a chi

      • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by oiron (697563) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:08AM (#43444799) Homepage

        You're assuming that the reason for the warnings is to save lives...

        It's actually purely to get themselves off the hook after lives are lost. Plausible deniability!

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          They are required by law, in most cases it's the law that's broken, whether requiring warnings, or making them optional, but required for liability issues.
      • Labelling (Score:4, Insightful)

        by VirginMary (123020) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @11:28AM (#43446085)

        When I was living in the US, I enjoyed showing my German friends labels from water bottles that listed 0% fat, with the comment: "Look, they sell fat-free water in the US, quite unlike all the fatty water that is being sold in Germany!" ;-)

      • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by makomk (752139) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @12:22PM (#43446323) Journal

        Nope, the problem is that people are idiots, even smart people. On one of the previous /. discussions there were a surprising number of people who posted comments talking about how they'd swallowed all kinds of metal objects as kids, many of which were sharp, and swallowing something round like Buckyballs is no big deal - it's just the nanny state kicking up a fuss about nothing. They did this in response to an article which described, in fairly graphic detail, exactly why swallowing strong magnets was more dangerous than other small metal objects and the actual injuries that had resulted from it.

    • Why does this even need a warning? If you're too stupid not to understand to either A) not ingest these, or B) not give them to someone not old enough to know better, then by all means, swallow them all, then go get an MRI.

      I find the overreaction(compared to less esoteric flavors of consumer-unsafety) rather strange; but the mechanism of harm is not wildly intuitive.

      If you ingest one, the consequences are essentially nil. The coatings(generally either nickel or some epoxy or polymer) are reasonably inert and not particularly dangerous, and even the magnets themselves(while not considered biocompatible) are not a serious oral toxicity concern.

      If you ingest two or more, with a time lag between ingestions, they can potentially s

    • by dbIII (701233)
      The risk is swallowing two magnets and necrosis in the intestine between them - same as with toys with magnets decades ago. If a toy does not secure the magnets properly it gets recalled - same as with faulty toys with magnets decades ago. Maybe the problem here is toys from manufacturers that did not learn that lesson decades ago.
    • It's due to the fact that people in the USA are so freaking brave that they'll swallow them just to prove the terrorists haven't won. Or, alternatively, they're actually very scared of tiny spherical magnets.

      It reminds me of http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/01/30/leigh-van-bryan-and-emily-bunting-banned-from-entering-us-after-twitter-joke-about-destroying-america_n_1241104.html/ [huffingtonpost.co.uk] where that whole country of gun-toting free-thinking individuals wouldn't have been safe from a couple of tourists from the
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bengie (1121981) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @06:53AM (#43445279)

      CPSC has received 54 reports of children and teens ingesting this product, with 53 of these requiring medical interventions.

      Sounds like Darwinism in action. Young children, I can understand, but teens?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 14, 2013 @02:22AM (#43444681)

    But if it's guns, well, we can't even suggest that background checks should be implemented or the NRA will unleash a titanic fury of political money to get what they want.

    • by Z34107 (925136) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @02:36AM (#43444705)

      Relax. We're laughing that "think of the children" claimed your toys, too.

    • We don't have anything in our Constitution about Buckyballs (although I am pretty sure if it had ever occurred to the Founding Fathers that the Federal Government would do this, they would have put something in there about it...however, I am also pretty sure that they would have thought that the 10th Amendment covered this).
      • by TheCarp (96830)

        9th amendment covers it pretty solidly if you ask me. They didn't mention them, therefore the government wasn't granted any power over them. Government power is supposed to be explicitly granted not assumed and then limited later.

        But hey, everything, including growing your own crops rather than buying them, is interstate commerce now [wikipedia.org]. If someone starts selling air in a can, they might have the authority to regulate your breathing the way things have been going

        And people say this place has only been going in

    • I think you got this backwards. This is just as fucking stupid as current proposed gun laws.

      • by frisket (149522)
        In fact, it's just as fucking stupid as current gun laws: any imbecile can obtain a gun and ammo and kill anyone they like.
  • ffs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maliqua (1316471) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @02:22AM (#43444683)
    Why is it the governments job to parent. keep an eye on kids, teenagers? lol teenagers if they eat them that's natural selection
  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @02:23AM (#43444685)

    children, maybe teenagers?

    come on thats not saftey that Darwin, if your teenager is eating magnets then wtf are they going to do with a car, or the right to vote OMFG

    • by White Flame (1074973) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @02:54AM (#43444753)

      The situation that I heard about was teenagers (presumably at the lower end of that age range) accidentally ingesting them from putting them on their lips, tongue or teeth in trying to simulate piercings & jewelry.

      It's still absolutely retarded that the CPSC is so bent on banning these things. I think the extent of their influence is getting them off retail store shelves, not outlawing their sale completely.

      "At least" they've only gone after Buckyballs, not the other manufacturers. I bought mine from NeoCube [theneocube.com], as they're by far the cheapest for their large combo set. Buckyballs are expensive. As NeoCube and others (like Zen Magnets) generally only sell online, I'm not sure if they're in the CPSC's reach.

      • by deimtee (762122) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @05:54AM (#43445143) Journal

        "At least" they've only gone after Buckyballs, not the other manufacturers. I bought mine from NeoCube, as they're by far the cheapest for their large combo set. Buckyballs are expensive. As NeoCube and others (like Zen Magnets) generally only sell online, I'm not sure if they're in the CPSC's reach.

        There's a banner on Neocube's website now that says :
        THESE PRODUCTS ARE NOT FOR CHILDREN UNDER 14!! Please Read All Warnings
        NOT FOR SALE INSIDE THE U.S.

        • by jbengt (874751)
          There's a very long list of warnings on that site, including how the magnets can fry your electronics, and how you should never put any in a body orifice (are those stupid enough to die from small magnets smart enough to know what an orifice is?)
          The best warning is "This product contains small balls.".
    • by GNious (953874)

      children, maybe teenagers?

      come on thats not saftey that Darwin, if your teenager is eating magnets then wtf are they going to do with a car, or the right to vote OMFG

      Drive pickups and vote republican?

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      if your teenager is eating magnets then wtf are they going to do with a car, ...

      drive it while sexting.

      ...or the right to vote OMFG

      Well, that one is easy... they'll swallow it too and they'll also become sick because of it.

  • These retailers have agreed to participate because Maxfield & Oberton has refused to participate in the recall of all Buckyballs and Buckycubes.

    Nice to see that Maxfield & Oberton were willing to brave it out and stick up for themselves and our rights to own Buckyballs! Let's go see if they have any reaction to the news on their homepage [getbuckyballs.com].

    On December 27, 2012 Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, LLC (the "Company") stopped doing business and filed a Certificate of Cancellation with the Secretary of St

  • Incredibly stupid (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zaldarr (2469168) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:04AM (#43444781) Homepage

    There was a big hoo-ha in Australia about 6mo ago where a 12 year old kid swallowed a bunch of them that were sitting on a high shelf in his father's locked study. So the kid, who is 12 and should have known better, went into his fathers office, climbed up the shelf, pulled down metal balls and proceeded to eat them. The mother went on to campaign for them to be pulled from Australian stores, which they were 4 months later.

    Now the infuriating thing about this is that because of one *incredibly* stupid kid everybody doesn't get some awesome toys. My 26 year old brother in law is pretty annoyed because he spends a lot of his free time tinkering with big blocks of them and now he can't get anymore. These are not children's toys and it is foolish to ban them entirely because some dumbass kid was stupid. By that logic you'd have to ban every adult product on the logic that it was not safe for children

    • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Sunday April 14, 2013 @10:14AM (#43445789) Homepage

      So the kid, who is 12 and should have known better, went into his fathers office, climbed up the shelf, pulled down metal balls and proceeded to eat them.

      The kid didn't just ate them for the fun of it, it swallowed them accidentally while pretending to have a pierced tongue. You might still call that stupid, but that's well in the realm of normal child stupidity (I for one prefer to call that creativity).

      These are not children's toys

      It's looks like a toy, it plays like a toy and is fun like a toy. The very problem with them is that it is not obvious how dangerous those things can be.

    • because of one *incredibly* stupid kid everybody doesn't get some awesome toys

      Never has been more relevant [theonion.com]

  • A growing problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:04AM (#43444783) Homepage

    The risk for teenagers comes from attempts to use magnets to simulate piercings. [lww.com]

    See "Magnet Ingestions in Children Presenting to United States Emergency Departments from 2002 to 2011." [nih.gov] "A national estimate of 16,386 (95% CI: 12,175-20,598) children The incidence of visits increased 8.5-fold (0.45 per 100,000 to 3.75 per 100,000) from 2002 to 2011 with a 75% average annual increase per year. The majority of patients reported to have ingested magnets were under 5 years (54.7%). From 2009-2011 there was an increase in older children ingesting multiple small and/or round magnets, with a mean average age of 7.1+-0.56 years over the study period. "

    • by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:44AM (#43444853)

      Smoking is a problem. Motor vehicle accidents are a problem. Guns related deaths (some say it isn't) are a problem.

      A product that has sold 2.2million sets resulting in 33 surgical procedures and 1 death since 2010 is NOT a problem.

      • Could you please supply the exact number of children's deaths over a 3 year period that you believe would justify banning the product. Thanks.

        • Re:A growing problem (Score:5, Informative)

          by dgatwood (11270) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @10:02AM (#43445749) Journal

          Could you please supply the exact number of children's deaths over a 3 year period that you believe would justify banning the product. Thanks.

          For perspective, on average 25 kids die every year from plastic bags [livestrong.com]. On average, 350,000 kids require emergency room care and 200 kids die every year from bicycle accidents [livestrong.com], and that's a toy designed for use by kids. I can't give you an exact number, but it should certainly be several orders of magnitude greater than the number of kids injured or killed by Buckyballs.

          Either that or ban all bicycles and plastic bags, including garbage bags.

        • by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @10:03AM (#43445755)

          No. But it's damn well higher than one. As a quick guide think of the things we as a society take for granted and then consider how many people get killed by it each year.

          But then it's not a case of absolutes either. The primary purpose of buckyballs is not to be eaten. As such a child related death due to ingestion is simple bad supervision by parents. Accidental deaths are attributed to all manner of products used improperly. A teenager got killed opening a computer powersupply, does that mean we should ban all computers? On the other hand a safety device like a seatbelt pretensioner failing and causing one death over a three year period is cause for alarm as the device failed to perform it's primary purpose.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:09AM (#43444803)

    I may not buy magnets because some parents are stupid enough to give high power magnets to kids?

    That's messing with nature, weeding out those too stupid to breed and take care of their offspring. Sorry, but if you're stupid enough to think extra powerful magnets are something that belongs in your kids hands, your genes should go down the tubes.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      afaik these don't ban magnets themselves. just packing them in a toy like box and being available at your toystore!

    • by PPH (736903) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @05:10AM (#43445063)

      ... CERN's LHC will be decommissioned due to fears that scientists might swallow the accelerator magnets.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      I may not buy magnets because some parents are stupid enough to give high power magnets to kids?

      RTFA. The recall is for a particular type of magnetic toy, not "high power magnets" per se. Its one thing to sell potentially dangerous items - its another thing to package them as toys [gajitz.com]*.

      Also - as someone has pointed out elsewhere - there is a particular problem with older kids using these to make fake tongue piercings - so its not just parents giving them to babies and toddlers who will swallow anything.

      Plus - this threat isn't immediately obvious. There have been magnetic toys since the year dot - but n

      • Reminds me of my chemistry book. I guess quoting the more interesting parts might already be illegal itself in this time and age, but allow me to quote this gem: "If the mixture turns pink, an explosion cannot be avoided".

        Period. Next chapter.

        Really lovely.

    • by makomk (752139)

      Would you be willing check, every time, that every single magnet went back in the case even if it took you several days to find the ones that went missing? Because if not, there's a good chance that you'd be a danger to kids if you got your hands on a set of these magnets - even if you don't have kids of your own, it just takes a visiting kid finding a couple and eating them, or them getting trapped in the tread of your shoe and deposited somewhere where kids could eat them, or... They don't look obviously

      • If you have kids, it might be a good idea to NOT get those things exactly because they're a hazard to kids and it's easy to drop a bead.

        What happened to responsibility? Seriously, are we so used to being enclosed in bubblewrap that we instantly think nothing we have could possibly be dangerous when handled carelessly?

        Young kids are not allowed in my home for various reasons, and none of them being that I'm afraid they could make a mess. I do a lot of Microcontroller work, that includes not only tiny bits of

  • Warning (Score:4, Funny)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:40AM (#43444845)

    In news tonight the CPSC have called for more warning labels on things that could potentially in rare cases cause death or hospitalisation. This follows the single reported death due to ingestion of bucky balls, a popular product designed exclusively to kill babies. One Californian senator however says the CPSC is dragging its feet and has a long way to go to protect Americans. He has repeatedly criticized the CPSC over its lack of interest and regulation of gun sales urging both the department and retailers to place signs on all ammunition saying "Warning: May contain lead".

  • by TheReaperD (937405) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @03:57AM (#43444899)

    You can have my BuckyBalls when you pry them from my cold dead fingers!

  • by davmoo (63521)

    Not only will I not submit my sets for recall, I intend to buy more than the 6 sets I already have. If you're so fucking stupid that eat magnets, that's not my problem. And likewise, if you're too stupid to educate or protect your children, that's not my problem either.

  • Maybe the people who had issues with the buckyballs ordered the "assault buckyballs" instead of the normal one because we all know some are much more dangerous based on appearance.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    South Carolina has introduced state legislation that would make possession or sale of spherical magnets smaller than 1 inch in diameter a Class C Felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and limits the sale or possession of ALL magnets that are "just magnets" to industrial and commercial use only. For residential use, under the new legislation, all magnets must be part of an assembly that cannot be ingested, and the magnets cannot be removable from the product.

    Idiocracy. For the children.

  • Local quarry to recall gravel because of swallowing hazard.

  • If your dumb enough to eat magnets or if you're to young to know better and someone lets you eat magnets then it's not the magnets fault. We need to stop getting rid or dangerous or potentially dangerous toys because retarded kids and sorry excuse for parents don't pay attention. What's next, do I have to get rid of my bench power supply's? They can push high AMP's out, so a kid could hurt themselves or an adult. Do I have to get rid of high power computer fans because a kid could stick it's finger i
  • by lexsird (1208192) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @11:03AM (#43445969)

    Look, you can't have people with unsupervised mass accelerators that can fire a bucky ball through the moon, just out firing willynilly about the landscape. It's down right rude, man! Think about it! Nor can you expound upon the issue in public, lest you arouse the leviathan of curiosity, "gauss rifle...wtf is that?" And there we are, with yet another 2nd Amendment crisis on our hands. By the way, I think bullets are a choking hazard as well.

    There are some people who are dangerous with a sharp stick in their hand, right? Qualifications is all I'm saying.

  • by gweihir (88907) on Sunday April 14, 2013 @11:34AM (#43446115)

    And only 53 of them required "medical intervention". This is an absolute non-risk. Only credible explanation for this "alert": Some bureaucrats want more importance and are willing to create a lot of fear to get it. That is terrorism at its best. Sadly, these despicable cretins will get away with it as being afraid is now so deeply ingrained in US culture that people probably would not feel right without it.

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