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December 6th, 2006 Claire Trageser | Rogue of the Week
 

Toys Containing Magnets

     
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As you're rushing around snatching up holiday toys, there are some options to avoid.

The list of Rogue-ish toys comes courtesy of Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, which annually releases an annual "Trouble in Toyland" report to highlight toys with potential safety hazards.

OSPIRG's report cites a new danger that's emerged in recent months: toys containing magnets. OSPIRG field director Jonathan Jelen says magnets can come loose and be swallowed. And if two magnets are on different sides of an intestinal wall, their attraction to each other can tear a hole in that wall or pinch the intestine shut, causing severe damage.

In November 2005, a 21-month-old boy from Redmond, Wash., died from a pinched intestine, according to an autopsy cited in the King County Journal, after swallowing several magnets from his older brother's Magnetix building set, made by MEGA Brands. And in October 2006, MEGA Brands settled a lawsuit with 15 victims' families for $13.5 million. Although the toys have been redesigned and now carry warning labels, OSPIRG says the older versions are still sold in stores such as Target, Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us.

MEGA Brands' response to the OSPIRG spotlight: in addition to adding warning labels and other safety steps, the company cooperated with a Consumer Product Safety Commission request to voluntarily recall 4 million Magnetix building sets. Target and Toys "R" Us officials didn't return Rogue Desk messages. Wal-Mart did, saying the older version of the toy remains on the shelves because the recall was an advisory that products are mislabeled.

The full toy report by OSPIRG, which wants all magnetic toys to carry a warning label, can be found at ospirg.org.

 
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