Fatal Attraction

Small magnets pose a choking hazard and more.


In 2007, the CPSC named magnets the No. 1 hidden home hazard. Tiny, powerful magnets are often used in toys, but they can fall out and be swallowed by a child. Swallowed magnets can attract one another through intestinal walls, resulting in serious infection or death.

Reports of one fatality and more than 86 injuries associated with magnetic toys since 2005 prompted action last year by ASTM International (formerly the American Society of Testing and Materials): It mandated new design and labeling standards in order to make magnetic toys safer and to warn parents about which toys contain magnets.