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Former Under Secretary of Homeland Security, Author of “Deadly Indifference”, National Security Blog Expert - The National Journal, Political Blogger - The Daily Caller, Radio Talk Show Host - "The Michael Brown Show", Founder & Chairman - Apoklayyis, Inc.

Buckyballs & The CPSC. Risk Analysis Gone Beserk.

Who knew that the future of the Republic was teetering because of Buckyballs? I had never heard of Buckyballs until today when I learned that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had filed an administrative lawsuit against this national health threat. Buckyballs are the number one selling brand name in “high powered magnets”, which the Washington Post recently called America’s “fave desk accessory.” I’ve got to find some of these before they’re outlawed. Soon, the only owners of Buckeyballs may be outlaws.

Talk about a risk-averse society. We now have a federal agency trying to shut down a legitimate business enterprise based on more weasel language than you can imagine (I’ll give you some examples shortly). Even before the government began its legal proceedings against the manufacturer it started to contact retailers selling Buckeyballs giving them 48 hours to tell the government they would stop selling Buckeyballs. Faced with this government intimidation some retailers were good sheeple and immediately stopped selling this completely legal product.

Oh, and the product carries this warning label:

Seems like a very well worded warning to me. Kids should’t use these. If swallowed could cause injury. If swallowed, seek medical advice.

The hyperbole over these products is astonishing. According to MedsAvailable one incident is a cause for alarm:

The Buckyballs incident is truly a cause for alarm for any parent and what’s even more disturbing is that it isn’t really a rare case. There is one other incident involving a pre-teen who also had to go through an operation for swallowing 8 pieces of Buckyballs. There are also 22 other reported cases which do not exactly involve Buckyballs [emphasis added], but the foreign objects at fault are still magnets.

In the light of this news, we only can come to one conclusion, magnets, Buckyballs or not, are definitely not safe. Magnets are not kids’ toys. They may now be manufactured and marketed as stress toys for adults but they are still not for children. You can never go wrong with the following warning: Keep Away from Children at All Times.

So are Buckyballs the problem or are magnets the problem?

Even in Colorado Buckyballs are crushing civilization. While I’m sorry the mother in this story had to deal with the medical issue, as you watch the video, remember, she’s the mother of a five year old. Why would you buy these? Of course, she blames the store which may or may not be true, but relying on a retail clerk to help make your parenting decision seems irrational and wrong. Bad parenting in my opinion. The problem is the parenting, not the product:

Maybe Mom should pay closer attention. And hey, accidents happen and that’s part of the risk of raising children. Oh, and just as a reminder, see that warning label above.

So are Buckyballs the threat they seem to the CPSC? Since 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has received 200 reports of ingestion of magnets of all kinds, Wolfson said. The analysis released Wednesday showed more than 20 ingestions were of high-powered, “rare earth” magnets.

Whoa? 200 reports of magnet ingestion? In a population of 325,000,000 Americans, that comes out to 0.00000062% of Americans who have ingested magnets not just Buckyballs.

Is this really a risk worth dragging a legitimate business into an administrative law court over something that is a risk to 0.00000062% of all Americans (and that includes all magnets, not just Buckyballs. Perhaps we should outlaw magnets.

Here’s the CPSC complaint against Buckyballs. Read it or at least skim through it to see the absurdity:

CPSC Complaint Against Buckyballs

Here’s what I gleaned from the complaint:

Here are some of the allegations contained in the complaint filed against Buckyballs:

-More than 2,000,000 Buckyballs have been sold.
-Children under 14 might ingest these products.
-Medical professional may not be aware of the dangers posed by ingesting these products.
-”Numerous” incidents of ingestion by kids under 14 have occurred.
-A 9 year old boy ingested them.
-A 12 year old girl ingested them.
-A 3 year old girl, a 4 year old boy and a 10 year old girl ingested them.

Sounds horrible. Children must be dying in horrible numbers around the country because of Buckeyballs. And seriously, CPSC is claiming that doctors don’t know what to do if a child ingests a magnet. Perhaps it’s time to get a different pediatrician.

I also didn’t realize that “numerous” was a legal standard by which a product could be banned. I can think of lots of things that happen “numerous” times but would never consider banning or outlawing those items or products.

This is a classic example of our government run amok. No risk analysis. No realistic empirical evidence that this is significant threat. No recognition that parents have an obligation to watch their children. No evidence that the medical community is incompetent regarding swallowed magnets. And an incident rate that belies logic. 0.00000062% of Americans have swallowed magnets.

If this is the new standard by which we measure risk, we’re in big trouble.

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2 Responses to “Buckyballs & The CPSC. Risk Analysis Gone Beserk.”

  1. David brumbaugh #

    I am a pediatric gastroenterologist in a mid-size city. Close to once per month we care for a child who has swallowed multiple neodymium magnets (the rare earth metal in Buckyballs). At our single hospital, we have had multiple children require intestinal surgery, more who have required endoscopic removal. There is no national reporting mechanism to count these cases, but extrapolating from our experience – these magnets are seriously harming scores of children. Our only interest as pediatricians is the care and protection of children – see http://www.aap.org and http://www.naspghan.org for position statements on this topic.

    July 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm
  2. Glenn Rawsky #

    This is wrong. Make your voice heard!
    If you also think that the ban on magnet spheres is wrong, please sign this petition: http://www.change.org/petitions/us-cpsc-cease-magnet-prohibition

    July 31, 2012 at 10:24 am