Canada to Regulate the Sale of Small Magnets
Canada may be the latest country to ban the sale of small, high-powered magnets. The Canadian minister of health, Leona Aglukkaq, announced several new health initiatives last week including increased regulation of small magnets in children's products.
In a statement released last week, Aglukkaq said that the Canadian government would pursue several new health and safety initiatives, including stricter regulations of playpens and magnets in children's products, simplifying the language on drug labels, improving research on food-borne illnesses and stronger reporting of side effects on medication.
"Canadians don't want government to raise their kids, but they do want government to take action to support the health and safety of their families," she said. "Over the coming months our government will be launching efforts to do just that in areas like food, drug and consumer product safety."
Health Canada, the federal department responsible for citizen health and safety, reported that several products on the market containing the rare-earth magnets violate the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA) and will be removed from the marketplace. The magnets pose a risk to children if swallowed, as magnets will become connected in a child's digestive tract and create blockages, tearing and internal bleeding. Health Canada cited two reports of serious injury to Canadian children who had swallowed magnets.
In 2012, the United States' Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) pursued similar regulation against magnet manufacturers. The commission asked several manufacturers and retailers to cease distribution in the U.S. in July 2012, leading to a high-profile lawsuit against Buckyballs' manufacturer Maxfield & Oberton, which ultimately discontinued its product line and went out of business. Earlier this month, the CPSC announced recalls in conjunction with eight major U.S. retailers for the ball bearing magnet sets.
Last week's announcement is not the first time Health Canada has addressed the topic. Following the CPSC's actions last summer, the department issued an advisory in August 2012, warning parents of the dangers posed by the small magnets.
At the time of printing, Health Canada has not provided a list of affected products or a date for when the increased regulations will take effect.