There have been reports of children swallowing rare earth magnets, leading to surgeries and death. Thirty-three percent of cases reported no adverse effects. Surgery was performed in 69.7% of cases for which medical treatment was reported, and 73.6% of cases were admitted to the hospital. There has been at least 1 known fatality in the United States related to the ingestion of rare-earth magnets.
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What are the hazards of these magnets?
The greater force exerted by rare-earth magnets creates hazards that are not seen with other types of magnet. Magnets larger than a few centimeters are strong enough to cause injuries to body parts pinched between two magnets or a magnet and a metal surface, even causing broken bones. Magnets allowed to get too near each other can strike each other with enough force to chip and shatter the brittle material, and the flying chips can cause injuries. Starting in 2005, powerful magnets breaking off toys or from magnetic construction sets started causing injuries and deaths. Young children who have swallowed several magnets have had a fold of the digestive tract pinched between the magnets, causing injury and in one case intestinal perforations, sepsis, and death.
A voluntary standard for toys, permanently fusing strong magnets to prevent swallowing, and capping unconnected magnet strength, was adopted in 2007. In 2009, a sudden growth in sales of magnetic desk toys for adults caused a surge in injuries, with emergency room visits estimated at 3,617 in 2012. In response, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission passed a rule in 2012 restricting rare-earth magnet size in consumer products, but it was vacated by a US federal court decision in November 2016, in a case brought by the one remaining manufacturer. After the rule was nullified, the number of ingestion incidents in the country rose sharply and is estimated to exceed 1,500 in 2019.
What is a rare earth magnet?
Rare-earth magnets are strong permanent magnets made from alloys of rare-earth elements. Developed in the 1970s and 1980s, rare-earth magnets are the strongest type of permanent magnets made, producing significantly stronger magnetic fields than other types such as ferrite or alnico magnets.
Carr and Carr Attorneys The experienced attorneys at Carr and Carr have been helping injury clients for almost 50 years. If you or your child have been injured by swallowing earth magnets, call us today for your free consultation.