Buckyballs are back in the news:

A study published Aug. 6 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that emergency room cases of children ingesting magnets increased five-fold between 2002 and 2011. Some kids experienced severe damage to their intestinal walls that required surgery after swallowing several magnets.

“It is common for children to put things in their mouth and nose, but the risk of intestinal damage increases dramatically when multiple magnets are swallowed,” lead study author Dr. Jonathan Silverman, from the department of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash., said in a press release. “The magnets in question were typically those found in kitchen gadgets or desk toys marketed to adults but irresistible to children.”


Buckyballs, which were marketed to adults, appear to be especially attractive to young children:

Last year, a Portland, Ore. girl swallowed 37 Buckyballs, a magnetic desk ornament. Her family thought she initially had the stomach flu. An X-ray showed she had a circular chain of magnets in her stomach. The magnets pincher her intestines together and ripped three holes through her lower intestine and one in her stomach,requiring surgery.

A government complaint filed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in July 2012 requested that Buckyballs and Buckycubes no longer be available for purchase due to their potential health hazard for children. Though the company protested the claim and insisted that its products were not toys, both Buckyballs and Buckycubes are no longer for sale.


More PediaBlog on Buckyballs here and here.

Read Michelle Castillo’s article here and count the swallowed buckyballs on an X-ray.