Congressman Seeks Ban on Risky Children’s Toy Nationwide

( – Water beads hit the market years ago as both a children’s sensory toy and a decorative household item. The colorful product is a small absorbent polymer crystal that expands to the size of a marble when put in water. The beads have been subject to several recalls over the years for the dangers they pose to children. In March, Today reported a widespread recall prompted by an injury to a 9-month-old and the death of a 10-month-old. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission and Buffalo Games pulled over 50,000 water bead activity kits from the shelves. Still, water beads in one form or another from different manufacturers remain in stores, and at least one representative is calling for a nationwide ban.

Details About the Danger

According to a September release from Consumer Reports, about 4,500 emergency room visits since 2017 can be attributed to water beads. The Consumer Product Safety Commission believes that number is grossly understated. The report notes that the beads can wreak havoc once inside the body, contributing to hearing loss, bowel obstructions, infections, lung collapse, and death. Experts think the warning labels on the products are insufficient and don’t detail the gravity of the situation. Sadly, some manufacturers were reportedly aware of the dangers but chose not to recall the items.

Pediatric emergency physician at New York-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine, Dr. Michael Alfonzo, said if parents have a child under three, he wouldn’t have water beads in the home. Because the product is so small, kids can easily pop the colorful beads into their mouths or inhale them without detection. One major issue is they don’t easily show up on an X-ray. That can make diagnosis difficult and cost doctors precious time in treating the pediatric patient.

The Proposed Ban

Ashley Haugen, who founded an advocacy group after a water bead incident nearly cost her infant daughter her life, called on Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) to support a bill banning water beads nationwide. The lawmaker recently announced he would introduce legislation this week — the Ban Water Beads Act. He said water beads look like “candy,” and while they “look and sound fun,” they’re dangerous. Pallone said warnings are not enough; “they have to be banned.” His announcement also detailed several heartbreaking stories from parents whose children were harmed by the product. Pallone said a quick Amazon search for the product yielded an astounding 3,000 results despite warnings and recalls over the years.

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