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Cárdenas, Schrier Introduce the Magnet Injury Prevention Act

Mar 5, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) and Congresswoman Kim Schrier M.D. (WA-08) introduced the Magnet Injury Prevention Act to ban small, high-powered magnets following reports of severe intestinal trauma due to accidental ingestion in the United States. These high-powered magnets pose life-threating risks to adolescent children with one reported death. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced a companion bill in the Senate last year. Congressman Cárdenas is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is the Vice-Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.

“One fatality is one too many. There is no reason that these dangerous small, high-powered magnets should be on the market or sold in toys,” said Congressman Cárdenas. As a grandfather, this is personal for me. We have an obligation to do all that we can to prevent life-threating toys from reaching the hands of children in America. I am thankful for the support of my colleague and friend Dr. Schrier and I urge my Republican congressional colleagues to support this commonsense bill. When it comes to the safety of American children, we must all work together.”

“Today I’m introducing commonsense legislation with my friend Rep. Cardenas to protect young children from accidental ingestion of harmful magnets. As a pediatrician, I know all too well that children are curious and young children will frequently put things in their mouths. In this case, magnets in the gut can spell disastrous consequences, including death.  This bill is important because it will protect children and give parents some peace of mind,” said Rep. Schrier

“Small, powerful magnets pose a real threat to young children,” said Senator Blumenthal. “Children swallowing them can suffer lasting damage to their stomach or intestine because the magnets adhere and bunch which creates obstruction or perforation, internal bleeding, and even possibly death. They are a real danger.”

“We applaud Representatives Cárdenas and Schrier for introducing the Magnet Injury Prevention Act,” stated Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel with Consumer Federation of America. “This bill will protect children from the hidden hazards and severe health consequences caused by swallowing more than one small high-powered magnet.”

“These aren’t like normal magnets. If people swallow them, they’re at risk of serious, lifelong injuries or even death,” says William Wallace, manager of home and safety policy for Consumer Reports. “Congress should pass the Magnet Injury Prevention Act, and everyone with children or teens around should avoid all small, high-powered magnet sets.”

“Small powerful magnets were banned in children’s toys and injuries dropped dramatically,” stated Nancy Cowles, Executive Director of Kids In Danger. “But the danger didn’t stop the flood of dangerous magnet sets sold online to parents unaware of the dangers. This bill will keep all dangerous magnets away from children.”

“Following a notable statistical drop in incidence and morbidity related to ingestion of high-powered magnet toys from the market, there has been a new surge of magnet ingestion cases since the ban was lifted,” said Dr. Saied Dallalzadeh, Pediatric Gastroenterologist. “Since June 2019, I have had three cases with two suffered morbidity as a result of ingestion of high-powered magnet toys. I strongly support the passage of Rep. Cárdenas’ bill to ban the sale of high-powered magnet toys permanently.”

“Emergency physicians have seen a surge of children and adolescents coming to the emergency department at risk of severe, potentially fatal, internal injuries because of these dangerous products,” said William Jaquis, MD, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “ACEP appreciates Congress’s efforts to reinstate the ban on high-powered magnets and hopefully prevent any more children from being harmed by these hazardous items.”

“Pediatric gastroenterologists across the country are witnessing a now-sustained surge in cases of injury due to high-powered magnets ingested by children and teens.  Since availability of these magnet products children and teens are suffering gastrointestinal trauma, including life-threatening bowel perforations, due to swallowing them,” said Karen Murray, MD, President of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. “We commend Representative Cardenas for introducing the Magnet Injury Prevention Act to stop the sale of these dangerous products.”

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has documented 1 death, 33 three serious injuries, and over 1,700 hospital visits following accidental ingestion of high-powered magnets. Most victims are between 4 and 12 years old.

The Magnet Injury Prevention Act of 2019 reinstates the CPSC’s rule to ban certain small, high-powered magnet sets. Specifically, the Act designates magnets as banned hazardous products if those magnets: are made from alloys of rare earth elements are consumer products, not toys or jewelry, fits completely within a small parts cylinder (16 CFR § 1501.4), and contains any individual magnet with a flux index—or magnetic field strength—greater than 50 kG2 mm2.

In 2013, the CPSC recalled high-powered magnetic balls.  The next year, CPSC finalized a safety standard to prevent the sale of these unsafe magnets. In the brief time that the high-powered magnet ban was in place, researchers found the frequency of pediatric ingestions, operations, and surgeries significantly decreased.  Courts vacated the CPSC standard and recall in 2015, allowing these magnets to pose an ongoing threat to children.

 

The Magnet Injury Prevention Act has been supported by:    

American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Emergency Physicians

American College of Gastroenterology

American Gastroenterological Association

American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy

Association of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition Nurses

Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Reports

Kids in Danger

North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition

Public Citizen

US PIRG

American Academy of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery

 

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