3 min read - 5/30/2023 - MagnetSafety.org
MagnetSafety.org, an organization dedicated to promoting magnet safety, recently celebrated and commended the CPSC for their apparent success in bringing down Buckyballsstore.com¹, a long-standing purveyor of recalled counterfeit Buckyballs spanning a decade. It is illegal for anyone to sell, offer for sale, distribute, or import into the United States any consumer product that has been subject to a recall according to the the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, 15 U.S.C § 2068(a) (2008). Even before genuine Buckyballs from the American based Maxfield & Oberton company were officially recalled² in July 2014, overseas counterfeiters began to emerge. Buckyballsstore.com served as a prime example of this behavior, persistently selling a product materially identical to the recalled Buckyballs since 2013.³
As of May 30, 2023, the front page of https://buckyballsstore.com no longer indicates sales have stopped, and products are again accessible for purchase by U.S. customers. Just as MagnetSafety.org was delighted and impressed by the CPSC's successful enforcement¹, disappointment comes with the unexpected resurrections of this online retailer. While there are many instances of such illegal and hazardous magnetic products available for purchase over the internet, Buckyballstore.com stood out prominently, as it held the top position in search results of "Buckyballs" for the most of the it's time in business, according to the Ahrefs web traffic tracker.
[Related: MagnetSafety.org's annual SREM surveillance list]
The brief stop-sale of Buckyballsstore.com does show that the CPSC does have intent and willingness to enforce preexisting magnet laws. However, the brazen return and continuation of sales, serves as an alarming testament to the concerns expressed by critics of the CPSC.
The magnet "Precautionists", have rightfully pointed out the paradoxical nature of the CPSC's prohibitionist stance on consumer neodymium magnets. While the CPSC claims on one hand that warnings, labeling, age restrictions and child-resistant packaging alone cannot effectively address the ingestion risks associated with high-powered hobby magnets sold to adults. On the other hand, CPSC has not been able to enforce the non-consensual consumer ban it deems necessary.
"It [is] impossible for safe magnets to displace unsafe magnets in the marketplace if the CPSC allows prevalent overseas sellers of recalled magnetic products to continue operating uninterrupted," remarked Shihan Qu, Director of MagnetSafety.org. "Nor can we meaningfully assess the effectiveness of appropriate packaging, labeling, and age restrictions under such circumstances, in determining what constitutes 'safe magnets'."
The return of Buckyballsstore.com, in open defiance of stop-sale demands, lays bare the CPSC's vulnerability in addressing the rise of overseas sellers engaged in the illegal trade of unsafe magnetic products. While we can only speculate on the potential impact of collaborating with the original American Buckyball company in 2012 - instead of shutting them down, leaving the Buckyballs trademark undefended, and pushing distribution out of CPSC jurisdiction - it is disheartening for both Magnet Prohibitionists and Precautionists to witness the resurgence of illegal sales at Buckyballsstore.com. This disappointment is particularly poignant at a time when magnet ingestions in America are near their alarming all-time highs.
[Related: 2022 NEISS Magnet Injury Data Released]
While Spherical Rare Earth Magnets (SREMs) are only a part of the American magnet ingestion emergency, the Magnet Safety Organization remains resolute in its mission to advocate for magnet safety, raise awareness, and work towards the development of stringent yet reasonable safety standards. We call upon all stakeholders - regulatory bodies, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers - to unite in the pursuit of comprehensive safety measures for consumer magnets.
Director of MagnetSafety.org