The Dangers of Magnetic Ball Toys for Children

By Adam J. Langino, Esq.

Recall History

In 2012, magnetic toys drew national attention for the hazards they posed. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff proposed new safety rules1 and filed an administrative complaint against Zen Magnets LLC, a manufacturer of high-powered magnets.2 The CPSC is the government entity charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death from hazardous consumer products. The CPSC filed the complaint3 to stop the sale of Zen Magnets Rare Earth Magnet Balls, notify the public of the product’s danger, and offer a full refund to consumers. The lawsuit came after eleven other manufacturers and importers of similar small, powerful magnet sets voluntarily agreed to CPSC’s requests to stop importing, distributing, and selling their dangerous magnetic products to the U.S. However, Zen Magnets refused to comply with CPSC’s requests and continued selling their powerful magnetic ball sets online to U.S. consumers.

The CPSC Complaint against Zen Magnets explained that when children accidentally or intentionally ingested two or more magnets, they could cause acute and long-term health consequences. The small, high-powered magnets could be drawn to each other with such force in the digestive system that they could result in progressive tissue injury and even death. In addition to the potential dangers posed to small children accidentally swallowing the magnets, the CPSC had also received reports of adolescents and teenagers using the magnetic balls to mimic tongue, lip, or cheek piercings, resulting in accidental ingestion and injury. The products had been advertised to children in 2009 and 2010 as “fun to play with” and “look good on cute people.” At this time, the federal mandatory toy standard required such strong magnets not to target children younger than 14, but the products were marketed to appeal to kids. The magnets came with a warning slip stating, “How old do you have to be to play with these? Dunno. 14 years old in the U.S. for a strong magnetic toy, unless it’s not a toy, then no age limit, but they’re fun magnets spheres, aren’t they a toy? Unless it’s a ‘science kit’ then the government recommendation is 8+.”

The magnets were subject to recall following a settlement between the CPSC and the magnet distributor defendants, Star Networks, USA LLC (Star).4 However, both Zen and Star ultimately violated the agreement by repackaging, rebranding, and selling the dangerous magnetic balls. In 2015, the Court ordered Zen and Star to cease directly or indirectly selling, offering for sale, or distributing in commerce small magnets of this nature (i.e., with a flux index greater than 50).

Following this order, the CPSC effectively banned these types of magnets, but a court later overturned the ban in 2016. After the ban was removed, injuries from high-powered magnets skyrocketed.5 A conservative estimate of children injured from ingesting the magnets included over 4,500 hospitalizations. This led doctors to call for another ban, citing “an urgent need for the CPSC to re-instate a strong safety standard that would effectively ban in the United States the sale of high-powered magnets.”6 By 2021, the CPSC once again recalled Zen Magnets’ products due to child injuries and death, and this time the recall included around 10 million magnets sold.7 Additionally, the CPSC proposed new rules8 for magnet safety standards.

Risk of Serious Medical Injury and Support for Regulation

In March 2022, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN) submitted a comment to the CPSC on the proposed safety standard for magnets published in the January 10, 2022, Federal Register.9 The AAP is a non-profit professional organization comprised of nearly 70,000 primary care pediatricians, medical subspecialists, and surgical specialists committed to the well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. NASPGHAN represents over 2,500 North American pediatric gastroenterologists advocating for children with gastrointestinal diseases. NASPGHAN, AAP, and physician members have been advocating for strong federal safety standards for tiny magnets for over a decade due to their capacity to cause serious medical injury and even death when children accidentally ingest two or more.

According to the 2022 comment submitted by the AAP and NASPGHAN, the overwhelming scientific evidence and peer-reviewed literature reflect the significant hazard posed by magnets with an attractive force, or flux index, of 50 kG2mm2 or greater. Due to these risks, the AAP and NASPGHAN strongly supported the CPSC’s January 2022 proposed magnet safety standard.

Children sometimes ingest foreign bodies intentionally without knowing any better, but most foreign body ingestions are unintentional and the result of developmentally appropriate behavior. Though many objects can pass through the digestive tract and exit the body without medical complications or interventions needed, small, high-powered magnets pose an alarmingly different risk. When two or more are ingested, their attractive force draws the magnets to each other across or between various segments of the digestive tract. This places children at a high risk of catastrophic abdominal injury, including gastrointestinal perforations, abdominal abscesses, or fistulas in the bowel. The magnetic force can also cause the intestine to twist on itself, cutting off its blood supply and leading to bowel death. Due to the nature of these potentially devastating injuries, invasive medical intervention and surgery are frequently required. Even if the intervention prevents greater injury or death, the procedures increase the lifetime risk of future adhesive bowel obstruction. Additionally, because x-rays cannot always provide the full picture of the location of the magnets, medical management is further complicated, and physicians must intervene aggressively.

In a 2015 study, out of 99 children who had ingested multiple magnets, 73 required abdominal surgery, 17 percent of treated children had at least one perforation or fistula, and 34 percent had numerous perforations along their gastrointestinal tract.10 The resulting injuries are serious and often have life-long consequences, such as an ostomy, surgically-placed feeding tube, or intravenous nutrition due to bowel resection or cessation of function in the magnet-injured bowel. More recent research studying the outcomes of nearly 600 children who had confirmed high-powered magnet exposure found that over 55 percent required hospitalization.11 Over 45 percent of the children required endoscopy and/or surgery for magnet removal or treatment of complications, and nearly 10 percent experienced life-threatening injuries such as perforation, fistula formation, bowel obstruction, bleeding, infection, twisting of the intestine, and/or bowel herniation. The studies cited by the AAP and NASPGHAN were offered to support their encouragement to the CPSC to finalize the proposed magnet safety standard without delay.

Current Safety Standards for Magnets

In November 2022, Robert S. Kaye, Director of the Office of Compliance and Field Operations, directed attention to the U.S. CPSC’s new Safety Standard for Magnets (Magnets Rule), 16 CFR part 1262, which makes it unlawful to sell non-compliant magnet products manufactured after October 21, 2022. “The Magnets Rule, with limited exceptions, applies to magnet products designed, marketed, or intended to be used for entertainment, jewelry (including children’s jewelry), mental stimulation, stress relief, or a combination of these purposes, and containing one or more loose or separable magnets.”12

Compliance with the Magnets Rule requires loose or separable magnets of a certain size (fitting within the small parts cylinder described in 16 CFR § 1501.4) to have a flux index of less than 50 kG2mm2. This requirement would ensure that magnetic parts small enough to be ingested would not be strong enough to cause serious damage to the digestive tract if attracted to each other. Director Kaye’s letter strongly urged manufacturers and sellers to carefully review sales listings for products subject to the Magnets Rule to prevent the sale of dangerous and non-compliant products to consumers.

Failure to comply could result in fines and civil penalties. Section 15(b) of the Consumer Product Safety Act requires manufacturers, importers, and distributors of consumer products to report immediately to the CPSC when they obtain information reasonably supporting the conclusion that products in distribution fail to comply with the applicable consumer product safety rule.

Recent Recalls and Safety Rule Implementation

Unfortunately, the market has been flooded with these types of products despite a decade of research showing the dangers they pose. Following the implementation of the Magnets Rule, the CPSC has had to issue several recall warnings based on hazardous products in circulation. International production and online sales have made it difficult to enforce the rule fully to protect consumers from the dangers of high-powered small magnets.

On July 6, 2023, the CPSC issued a recall warning to consumers to immediately stop using Carolina Milano 5mm Magnetic Balls Cubes.13 CPSC testing revealed that the magnetic ball cubes do not comply with the requirements of the Magnets Rule. Despite the danger the magnetic balls pose if ingested, the seller (, based out of Israel) would not cooperate with the CPSC on the recall, nor would they offer a remedy to consumers. These magnetic balls were sold as a set of 216 multi-colored separable rare-earth magnetic balls in the form of a cube. Though they were sold with a warning to keep away from all children, they were only encased in a clear, plastic case and tin box, easily accessible to children.

The CPSC guides businesses about the safety standards for manufacturing magnetic balls.14 Though the CPSC cannot confirm exactly when the balls were manufactured since the Carolina Milano brand wouldn’t cooperate, it is presumed that the sale of the Carolina Milano magnetic balls violates the federal safety standard for magnets that makes it unlawful to sell non-compliant magnet products manufactured after October 21, 2022. The manufacturer did not recall the products. However, the CPSC urged consumers to stop using the magnetic balls cube immediately and report any incidents involving product injuries or defects to CPSC at

Several months later, the CPSC publicized a recall of high-powered magnetic balls sold by XpressGoods.15 The toy magnet sets contain colorful metal neodymium magic magnetic balls that do not comply with the Magnets Rule due to the size and strength of the magnets. They were recalled on December 7, 2023, with a refund offered to consumers. Shortly after, on December 28, 2023, the CPSC recalled over 4,000 magnetic balls sold exclusively through Walmart with a refund remedy.16 The 5mm magnetic ball sets were recalled for failing to comply with the requirements of the Magnets Rule because they contained one or more high-powered magnets stronger than permitted for their size. The CPSC noted that their size and strength posed hazards, including perforation, twisting and/or blockage of the intestines, infection, blood poisoning, and death if they become lodged in the digestive system.

Following the recall of the Joybuy magnetic ball sets sold by Walmart, emergency medicine pediatricians weighed in on the dangers of the recalled magnets. Dr. Sarah Ash Combs at Children’s National Hospital told, “Magnets are small, attractive, and we know that little children love to put things in their mouths.”17 The AAP recommends that families with children do not keep high-powered magnet sets in the home, and if they do keep such sets, they should lock them in a place where children cannot access them.18

The CPSC issued six other warnings in December 2023 for high-powered magnets.19 Four of the warnings were for magnet sets sold exclusively on the Temu marketplace, including Allvre’s 216-piece 5mm Magnetic Ball Sets, Sunny House’s 125-piece 5mm Mixed Color Magnetic Ball Sets, Ming Tai Trade’s 216-piece 5mm Magnetic Ball Sets, Magic QQ’s 216-Piece Mixed Color Magnetic Ball Sets. In response, Temu said it would remove the products from its platform and provided CPSC with the merchants’ information. Temu also stated it would cover recall costs if merchants were unwilling to do so. Though the magnets were sold online this year in violation of the Magnets Rule, most manufacturers would not offer a recall or remedy to customers directly. Online manufacturers located outside of the U.S. have mostly appeared unwilling to comply with federal standards, so additional caution should be taken when purchasing toys sold by international online marketplaces like Temu.

Due to the serious nature of these recalls, parents or guardians should be vigilant about limiting children’s access to small, high-powered magnets. If you purchased recalled toys, dispose of them immediately to prevent potentially life-altering accidents. Additionally, talk to your children and teenagers about the dangers of small magnets if accidentally ingested. If you suspect your child swallowed high-powered magnets, seek immediate medical attention to avoid serious internal injuries and complications. The recalls of high-powered magnets and the return to rules banning their sale and distribution are critical to keeping children safe and should not be ignored.

What to do if a Defective Product Injures your Child?

If you are in the unfortunate position of purchasing these magnetic ball toys, you should contact the seller and request a refund. If nobody has been injured, I would suggest throwing away the toy to prevent future harm to anyone else.

However, if a magnetic ball injured you or a family member, you should contact an attorney immediately. You must also set aside any remaining product parts and receipts, instructions, or packaging. Your attorney and attorney’s experts must review this information if a lawsuit is necessary.

One way to preserve this type of information is to purchase a small plastic container. Place the product, instructions, and receipts in the plastic container and then tape shut the container. You should also write the date and time on the tape you used to seal the container. You should next set aside this container in a safe spot until you can provide it to your attorney for further safekeeping.


If you purchased any of these recalled products or similar high-powered small magnetic toys before or after the ban was instituted, an attorney may help you understand whether you have a claim against the manufacturer or seller of the product. I am deeply sorry if you are reading this because your child was injured or died as a result of these products. Over my career, I have successfully resolved many child injury claims, and I am licensed to practice law in Florida and North Carolina and co-counsel claims in other states. If you want to learn more about me or my practice, click here. If you wish to request a free consultation, click here. As always, stay safe and stay well.










10 Waters et al. Surgical management and morbidity of pediatric magnet ingestions. J Surg Res 2015 Nov;199(1):137-40).

11 (Citing Middelberg LK, Leonard JC, Shi J, et al. High-Powered Magnet Exposures in Children: A Multi-Center Cohort Study. Pediatrics. 2022;149(3):e2021054543).



14 CPSC Letter to Retailers and Sellers of Magnets


16 (Relax 5mm Science Kit, Large Hematite Magnets Magnetic Stones Building Blocks)




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