The Washington Post. Dec. 25, 2019.
The number of children ingesting rare-earth magnets — powerful tiny balls that are a popular desk toy and can shred a child’s intestines — has skyrocketed in the three years since courts blocked the efforts of federal regulators to force changes to the industry, which largely holds the power to regulate itself.
The nation’s poison control centers are on track to record six times more magnet ingestions — totaling nearly 1,600 cases — this year than in 2016, when a federal court first sided with industry to lift the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s four-year ban on the product. Medical researchers say the only explanation for the spike is the return of these unusually strong magnets to the market after the court ruling.
Now, with the CPSC largely sidelined, magnet industry officials have launched a new effort to prevent product injuries and deaths through voluntary safety standards. Used for thousands of consumer products, these voluntary standards are supposed to reflect a balance between business and safety interests.