November 13, 2014 - Health Canada has submitted, yet again, another warning that toys containing small, powerful magnets are a health risk to children.
Recently a three-year-old boy swallowed two magnet rods (2.7 cm long) from a Mega Brands ‘Magnetix Magnetic Building Set’. The child received immediate medical care and did not sustain injuries but it could have gone the other way – within a moment’s notice.
The magnets are made of rare-earth mineral neodymium and are at least 15 times more powerful than standard magnets. They stick together with such force that if more than one is swallowed, they can bore holes in the stomach or intestines and cause severe, life-threatening complications within hours. If the high-powered magnets are not detected and removed, they can cause tissue necrosis where two loops of bowel are squeezed together which occludes the blood supply to that area of the gut causing infection, dissemination – and yes, even death. Survivors can experience serious lifelong health problems.
887,000 units from over 100 different Magnetix sets were sold in Canada from 2006 to 2009. They contain up to 350 plastic building pieces in an assortment of primary colours and finishes - metallic, translucent and glow in the dark. The building pieces included 2.54 cm triangles, cylindrical rods, flexors and curves - as well as 1.25 cm diameter steel balls.
In 2007, Magnetix Magnetic Building Set was recalled in Canada following several serious injuries in the United States and one child fatality in 2005. The toy manufacturer responded by redesigning the small magnets with a plastic casing and making the magnetic building parts not detachable during play - but many of the magnetic building parts were small enough to be swallowed by children.
Health Canada states, “Consumers should immediately and safely discard all Mega Brands Magnetix Magnetic Building Sets. They are also reminded to discard any older-style Magnetix magnetic toys that were recalled in 2007. The toys should be disposed of in normal household garbage and in such a way that they cannot be used or re-sold. Please note that the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act prohibits recalled products from being redistributed, sold or even given away in Canada.”
Health Canada would like to remind Canadians to report any health or safety incidents, past or present, related to the use of a consumer product or cosmetic by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.
Toy giant Mattel purchased Mega Brands last April for $460 million US.
- Health Canada receives about 71 reports per year on toy-related health or safety concerns.
- Toys can be recalled for health or safety reasons. Check the Healthy Canadians Recalls and Safety Alerts Databaseor download the mobile application for more information about the latest recalls.
- Toymakers in Canada are required to ensure their products follow the rules set out in the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and associated regulations, such as the Toys Regulations.
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