3 min read - 5/25/2023 - MagnetSafety.org
[Edit 5/30/2023: Buckyballsstore.com is selling again.]
The Magnet Safety Organization, also known as Magnetsafety.org, is pleased to announce that it has been notified by staff at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding the enforcement of a stop-sale at Buckyballsstore.com. This development, effective as of 5/24/2023 according to the front page of https://buckyballsstore.com, represents a significant triumph in the ongoing campaign against Spherical Rare Earth Magnets (SREMs) ingestion. At a time when magnet ingestion injuries among American children have reached alarming levels, this news brings much-needed relief.
[Related: 2023 NEISS Magnet Injury Data Released]
The year 2012 marked a turning point in the CPSC's commitment to combat magnet-related incidents. Even prior to the 2014 Buckyballs recall and the subsequent shutdown of Maxfield & Oberton, the discontinuation of genuine Buckyballs sales in 2012 paved the way for the rise of trademark squatters. These primarily direct-to-consumer Chinese e-commerce entities engaged in the illicit trade of counterfeit Buckyballs, which were nearly identical to the recalled product, thereby making their sale illegal and a clear violation of CPSIA regulations. Despite these circumstances, Buckyballstore.com consistently dominated search results for the term "Buckyballs" since its establishment in 2013 and illicitly continued selling these products for an uninterrupted period of ten years, as evidenced by the internet archive (web.archive.org). Critics have rightfully voiced concerns regarding the selective enforcement of magnet safety laws, casting doubt on the CPSC's effectiveness, willingness, and commitment to reducing magnet-related injuries.
The divergence between Magnet Prohibitionists, including the CPSC, AAP, and NASPHGAN, and Magnet Precautionists, such as the NCLA, HMA, NRHSA, and MagnetSafety.org, centers around the approach to preventing magnet ingestions by children. While Magnet Prohibitionists contend that no combination of age restrictions, child-resistant packaging, warning labels, or safety education can adequately address this issue, Magnet Precautionists contend that an all-ages prohibition hampers safety education efforts. They emphasize the prevalence of gray market magnets which are frequently marketed to children, do not comply with any safety standards, and fail to provide adequate labeling if any at all.
[Related: Pros and Cons of the Hobby Magnet Prohibition]
Although we may never know if collaborating with the original Buckyball company in 2012 - instead of shutting them down and pushing distribution out of the CPSC's own jurisdiction -
both Magnet Prohibitionists and Precautionists express their satisfaction with the recent enforcement of the stop sale at Buckyballstore.com. This action not only signifies a commendable reduction in the availability of hazardous SREMs but also represents a significant step in removing obstacles to development of improved safety standards. After all, it becomes challenging to establish new and robust safety measures when the CPSC appears unable or unwilling to enforce existing laws.
"It would be 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'."
While the stop-sale at Buckyballsstore.com represents a noteworthy stride forward, there remains substantial work to be done in this area. This enforcement action addresses just one instance among numerous counterfeit Buckyballs, Neocubes, and other unsafe SREM products still available for sale on various e-commerce platforms, as documented in MagnetSafety.org's annual SREM surveillance list.
[Related: MagnetSafety.org's annual SREM surveillance list]
Amidst ongoing debates surrounding the extent of warnings, labeling, age restrictions, and sales practices deemed "safe," it is vital to recognize that these debates hold relevance only when rules are not disregarded.
MagnetSafety.org wholeheartedly commends the CPSC for its recent enforcement success. By finally halting the decade-long spree of continuous sales of recalled counterfeit products at Buckyballstore.com, the CPSC demonstrates that it does have both the ability and willingness to enforce pre-existing magnet safety laws, even when such firms are overseas.
While SREMs are only a part of the American magnet ingestion emergency, The Magnet Safety Organization remains steadfast in its commitment to promote the safe usage of all high powered magnets among consumers and educators through research, regulatory monitoring, public outreach, and content creation.
Director of MagnetSafety.org