SINGAPORE: Ten magnetic toys, including magnetic building blocks and balls commonly known as Buckyballs, were tested and found to be unsafe for children, Singapore’s product safety regulator said on Monday (Sep 2).
The toys, which are said to help children with creativity, motor skills and coordination, are commonly sold online and marketed as educational products.
Safety regulator Enterprise Singapore said it tested 10 samples of the magnetic toys, and all were found to be unsafe in that "the mechanical properties did not comply with the safety requirements" set by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).
“A key concern of these toys is that it may contain high-powered magnets, and can cause harm if several are ingested by children,” said the Singapore regulator, which oversees product safety of general consumer goods.
“The tiny magnets can attract each other through the intestines, and potentially result in injuries such as perforation, scarring or infection.”
The agency cited two serious incidents - where a four-year-old child in the US had swallowed 13 magnets and a toddler in China had swallowed 21 magnetic balls - which led to the children requiring surgery.
Enterprise Singapore has issued notices to the suppliers of the toys tested and the suppliers have since removed the products from sale.
Products tested by Enterprise Singapore:
1. TENSOGER magnetic building blocks
2. TONGYUAN magnetic building blocks
3. ZHOND TOY magnetic building blocks
4. MAG-FUN magnetic building blocks
5. Buckyballs Neocube magnetic balls 216pcs 5mm
6. MAGCUBE magnetic cubes – Creative Building Block Magic Cube 125pcs 5mm
7. MAGCUBE magnetic balls – Magnetic Buck Balls 216pcs 3mm
8. Bucky Balls Rare Earth magnetic balls 216pcs 5mm
9. Magnetic Magic Cube Puzzle magnetic balls 216pcs 5mm
10. KEAIHAO Magnetic Building Blocks (The supplier has rectified safety concerns by including an approved warning label on small parts, Enterprise Singapore said.)
The toys tested were sold on online platforms such as Lazada, ezbuy, Qoo10 and Shopee.
Enterprise Singapore urged consumers who have bought the affected products to stop using them immediately, and for those who have purchased similar toys to look out for safety issues.
These include small parts that can be ingested by children, piercing hazards from protruding parts or finger entrapment due to improper toy design.
"The Buckyballs tested were marketed as toys for children, when they are intended for use by adults as a desk toy for relieving stress," the agency said.
Such toys should only be purchased from reputable brands and sellers, Enterprise Singapore warned.
Parents should also supervise their children when playing with magnetic toys, inspect toys for any broken or unsafe parts, store the magnetic toys out of your child’s reach and seek medical attention immediately if their children feel unwell during or after play.
Consumers can check if a safety alert has been issued for the product on Enterprise Singapore’s website or other international sites such as US Safer Products, it said.
Under Singapore’s consumer goods safety regulations, toys have to meet international safety standards such as mechanical hazards and toxicity from hazardous chemicals.
Any person who fails to comply with Enterprise Singapore’s directions to stop the sale of unsafe products faces up to two years’ jail and a fine of up to S$10,000.