Entries in magnets (8)


Magnet Implants: Sixth Sense or Nonsense?

Dann Berg(NEW YORK) -- As superpowers go, sensing the electromagnet waves given off by a microwave or computer may not be quite as impressive as flying or a cloak of invisibility but it is a power that is literally within anyone’s grasp. All it takes is a magnet implant in your fingertip.

New York City writer Dann Berg decided to get a magnet implant about three years ago after reading about the trend online.  The article described an implant gone wrong complete with graphic images of a magnet decomposing under flesh. Initially put off by the gory details, he decided to go for it anyway after finding out a buddy of his had it done with no ill effects.

“I had a curiosity to explore the world in a completely different way,” he explained.

Berg said the implant procedure, performed by a body piercing specialist, was quick and extremely painful. Only a medical practitioner can give injectable anesthesia, so he could only numb his finger with a little ice before the technician sliced into his right pinkie with a scalpel, slid a disc-shaped “rare earth” magnet into place and then sealed the incision with some surgical glue.

It took a few weeks for the numbness and swelling to subside, but Berg said he could pick up paper clips and safety pins with the magnetized digit almost immediately.

Gradually his finger began to develop a “sixth sense” around any object that gave off electromagnetic waves.

“There is a half dome of vibration that surrounds the object almost like a tennis ball cut in half,” he said. “The vibrations vary in strength depending on where I hold my finger and it’s almost like the finger itself is vibrating against an invisible field of energy.”

As Mark Fenske, a neuroscience researcher at the University of Guelph in Canada explained, there’s really nothing magical about magnet implants.

“A strong enough magnet will respond to changes in electromagnetic fields, which occur anywhere you have fluctuations in electrical current or movement of another magnet. Placing a magnet in the finger takes a form of information that normally isn’t readily sensed by touch and converts it to movement or vibration that is readily sensed,” he said.

One experience he quickly learned to avoid was having the magnet spin around inside his finger.
“An outside magnet with a different polar pull can cause my magnet to make a quick flip inside my finger. It doesn’t hurt but it is fairly uncomfortable,” he noted.

The only other minor inconvenience he’s experienced is when the magnet pulls off to one side and sits on its edge instead of lying flat against his finger. But so far he hasn’t set off any security systems, demagnetized his credit cards or trashed his smartphone.

Berg admits his fingertip magnet doesn’t have any practical applications unless you happen to work in a profession where telling the difference between a live wire and a dead one is important.  But he likes the idea that his “bio hack” is a compatible part of his body rather than something he wears.

Also, dangling small magnetic objects from his little finger is a fun party trick, he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Is Proposed Recall on Magnet Toys Unfair?

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Buckyballs, a toy made up of small magnetic beads that can be molded into different shapes, is one of the most popular office toys on the market.

Marketed to adults as a stress reliever and a cure for cubicle boredom, more than two million Buckyballs have been sold in the United States. The beads are shiny, sculptural and irresistible to play with, but they can also be dangerous.

At just 20 months old, Presley Bjarnson was hospitalized after he swallowed 18 Buckyball beads last month. His mother, Laura Bjarnson, who said she never saw the warning labels on the toy's packaging, had accidentally left the toy out where Presley could reach it.

When she discovered Presley with the toy, Bjarnson said she didn't know at the time if her son had swallowed the magnets. But Bjarnson, who is a registered nurse, took Presley to the pediatrician the following day as a precaution. An X-ray showed a ring of 18 Buckyballs lodged in his stomach.

As these high-power magnetic beads travel through the body, doctors say they can stick together, pinching tissue and ultimately puncturing holes in the thin intestinal lining.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Presley is just one of an estimated 1,700 people who have been hospitalized in the past three years after ingesting these kinds of magnets. As a result, the CPSC is demanding that Buckyballs and several high-power magnetic toys from other companies be recalled immediately.

But Buckyballs CEO Craig Zucker is not willing to give in.

"This is the first time in 11 years a company has said to the commission, 'We don't agree a recall is necessary,'" he said.

The company is challenging the proposed ban because, Zucker argues, Buckyballs are not defective and they are marketed as an office toy, clearly not intended for or marketed to children.

"We're not in Happy Meals. We're not on Saturday morning cartoons. We're in adult stores … places you would go to find something for your dad on Father's Day," Zucker said.

By demanding he stop selling his product, Zucker believes the CPSC has gone too far. In the wake of the proposed ban, he launched an online campaign called "Save Our Balls," which has sparked a national debate on the role of big government.

Zucker said his company has tried to reach a compromise with the government. Namely, he has taken steps to educate consumers about magnet safety and pointed out that Buckyballs packaging carries clear warnings to parents.

"[Warning labels are] on the top, the side, the carrying case. It's on the instructions," he said. "I would say it's impossible to miss the warnings. They're all over the place."

But the CPSC said these warning labels do not go far enough because they don't "travel with the product," meaning once the toy is removed from the packaging, there is nothing to expose its potential dangers or stop children from "facing serious injuries."

Presley Bjarnson, who was eventually rushed to the hospital where doctors were able to remove the 18 Buckyballs without major surgery, has since made a full recovery.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission wants to regulate the production of future magnetic office toy products to make them safer by making magnets larger, so they are more difficult to swallow, and less powerful.

In the meantime, they are determined to get all existing toys out of kids' hands and off store shelves as soon as possible.

For now, Buckyballs can still be purchased in specialty stores and on the company's website. Zucker said he is holding out hope for a compromise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What to Do If Your Child Swallows a Magnet

ABC News(NEW ORLEANS) -- Dr. Robert Noel, an associate professor of pediatrics in the Gastroenterology Division at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans, offered these tips for parents and caregivers who might have magnet toys in their home or suspect their child has swallowed a magnet.

Because magnet toys have industrial strength magnetic force, they find each other, or anything else made of metal, inside the body just as easily as outside. The tissue is trapped between which can result in:

•    Holes in the tissue of the esophagus, stomach, intestines
•    Infection
•    Fistulas
•    Bowel Obstructions
•    Tissue Death
•    Death

Tips for Parents, Caregivers Who Have Magnet Toys in Their Home:

•    If you have children and are not using these magnets then dispose of them safely.
•    If you have them and are still using them then put them away in a safe place preferably in a locked cabinet or locked container but definitely out of the reach of children.
•    If you have adolescents that use these magnets educate them on safe use and storage of the magnets when not in use.  Especially emphasize that younger siblings should not be allowed to touch these magnets.
•    Educate your older children and teens about the risks of swallowing these magnets. Never permit them to use these magnets as face, body or mouth jewelry (such as to mimic piercings)
•    If you have these magnet toys in your house, count them when you first use them, and count them each time before you put them away to account for all of them.
•    Encourage your child to tell you immediately if an accident happens and he or she swallows a magnet or sees another child swallow one.
•    Regularly check toys and play areas, including carpeting, for dislodged or lost magnets.
•    Run another magnet or an object made of a ferrous metal around play areas, couches, chair cushions, etc. to pick up lost magnets.
•    Consider using these magnets in a contained space such as on a tray where loose magnets can be contained to prevent them from dropping on the floor, carpet or into or under furniture.
•    If you cannot account for all magnets after they have been out and used then evaluate the possibility that a child could have accidentally swallowed them.
•    If it is possible that a young child could have swallowed them then immediately seek medical attention. Symptoms maybe not present or minimal until there is significant injury.
•    Do not delay an evaluation if magnet ingestion is possible since substantial injury can occur within hours of ingestion.
•    Don’t assume a swallowed magnet will pass normally.  These magnets are very likely to be attracted to one another and trap intestine between them causing them to become stuck inside your child.

What You Should Do if You Suspect That Your Child Has Swallowed a Magnet:

•    If you think your teenager, toddler or child has swallowed these magnets, immediately seek medical attention by calling your doctor or go to the emergency department.
•    Don’t assume a swallowed magnet will pass normally.
•    If your child has any unexplained stomach symptoms and these magnets are present in your household then consider the possibility that they have swallowed these magnets and take them to the emergency room for an x-ray evaluation.
•    If the doctor says he sees only a single magnet on the x-ray and it is all right for your child to go home, make sure he has taken at least two different x-ray views. Two magnets trapping a piece of intestine between them can appear as one magnet when one magnet is behind the other in an x-ray picture.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Experts Warn of Magnet Dangers in Children

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Small yet powerful magnets are becoming an increasing safety risk in children. And now, a new report published in the Lancet discusses two more cases in which U.K. children became ill after ingesting the pieces.

Dr. Anil Thomas George of Queen's Medical Centre at Nottingham University Hospitals in the U.K. describes the "widespread availability" of cheap magnetic toys that contain the parts that become easily detached and consumed by children.

"While we understand that it may be impossible to prevent small children from occasionally swallowing objects, we would highlight to parents the potential harm that could arise from multiple magnet ingestion," George said in a statement. "We would advise parents to be more vigilant and take extra care when giving their children toys that may contain magnets small enough to swallow.

"We would also welcome an increased awareness of this problem among toy manufacturers, who have a responsibility to alert parents to the presence of magnets in their products," he continued.

Incidents of children and teenagers accidentally ingesting high-powered magnets have been on the rise in recent years, Kim Dulic, a spokesperson for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, told ABC News in March. And most of the magnets are so small that it's difficult to notice if one or two go missing in a sofa or on the floor.

"The popularity of these products are growing, and it's resulting in an increasing amount of incidents," said Dulic.

One incident of ingesting magnets was reported in 2009, seven in 2010 and 14 through October 2011 in the U.S. The ages of these cases ranged from 18 months to 15 years, and 11 required surgical removal of the magnets.

The availability of toys with small magnetic elements has increased, George wrote in the report. And, since magnetic tongue rings and lip piercings in which two high-powered magnets sit on both sides of the lip or tongue have also become more popular in recent years, teenagers are also at risk, the CPSC warns.

Button-size batteries, found in remote controls, toys, calculators and bathroom scales, have also led to accidental ingestions.

"The difference between magnets and these batteries is that you can see symptoms within two hours of swallowing them," said Dulic. "It burns the esophagus and it can start soon after."

And, while the CPSC created new regulations in 2008 for children's products that contain magnets, the rules do not extend to adult products, which are also known to contain the pieces.

"We've found that a lot of teens are getting these at school, so parents should be sure to notify their teens as to what's happening with these products," said Dulic. "They can just be really dangerous."

"We believe that improvement in public awareness about this risk will be key in preventing such incidents," said George.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Three-Year-Old Ingests 37 Magnets

ABC News(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- An Oregon 3-year-old is recovering after she ingested 37 Buckyball earth magnets.

Payton Bushnell had complained to her parents about stomach pain, Oregon's KPTV reported. At first, Aaron and Kelli Bushnell thought their child simply had a stomachache, but her symptoms continued, and an X-ray at the hospital finally revealed a circular grouping of magnets in her stomach.

The magnets reportedly snapped Payton's intestines together, punched one hole in her stomach and three in her intestine, according to KPTV. Payton's parents say she may have mistaken the small metallic balls as edible toppings they often use to decorate cupcakes.

Physicians at Children's Hospital in Portland rushed Payton into surgery and she is now making a full recovery.

The Bushnells did not immediately return ABC News' requests for comment.

"If we had any idea what those magnets could have done to our daughter's intestines I would have never had them in our house, " Kelli Bushnell told KPTV.

People tend to experience flu-like symptoms within a couple days of ingesting the magnets.

The problem with children and teenagers accidentally ingesting high-powered magnets has been on the rise in recent years, said Kim Dulic, a spokesperson for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. And most of the magnets are so small that it's difficult to notice if one or two go missing in a sofa or on the floor.

"The popularity of these products are growing, and it's resulting in an increasing amount of incidents," said Dulic.

One incident of ingesting magnets was reported in 2009, seven in 2010 and 14 through October 2011. The ages of these cases ranged from 18 months to 15 years old, and 11 required surgical removal of the magnets.

"We want parents to be aware of the danger associated with these innocent-looking magnets," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said at the time the report was released. "The potential for serious injury and death if multiple magnets are swallowed demands that parents and medical professionals be aware of this hidden hazard and know how to treat a child in distress."

In response to the increasing number of accidental ingestions, Craig Zucker, CEO of Maxfield and Oberton, the manufacturer of Buckyballs, said, "High-powered magnets, such as Buckyballs, are products for adult use only and should be kept away from all children."

And since magnetic tongue rings and lip piercings in which two high-powered magnets sit on both sides of the lip or tongue have also become more popular in recent years, teenagers are also at particular risk, the CPSC warns.

Button-size batteries, found in remote controls, toys, calculators and bathroom scales, have also become a hot spot of contention because of the increasing number of accidental ingestions.

"The difference between magnets and these batteries is that you can see symptoms within two hours of swallowing them," said Dulic. "It burns the esophagus and it can start soon after."

"We want to continue to get the message out about these products and the dangers associated with them," said Dulic. "If parents believe their child has swallowed magnets, they should bring them to the doctor immediately."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Study Shows Magnetic Forces Help Heal Brain After Strokes

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ROME) -- There's some promising news for stroke patients who suffer from hemispatial neglect: a group of Italian researchers reported on Wednesday that using magnets to stimulate the nerve cells of the brain can help remedy the condition.

The treatment is called transcranial magnetic stimulation, and happens when doctors place a large electromagnetic coil against the scalp, creating electrical currents in one part of the brain.

"The treatment is based on the theory that hemispatial neglect results when a stroke disrupts the balance between the two hemispheres of the brain.  A stroke on one side of the brain causes the other side to become overactive, and the circuits become overloaded," study author Dr. Giacomo Koch of the Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome said in a news release.

Koch and his colleagues studied whether using magnetic stimulation would help rebalance the activity on both sides of the brain. They tested 20 patients with hemispatial neglect, giving magnetic stimulation to 10 patients and a sham treatment to the other 10 patients.  After two weeks, the patients who were magnetically stimulated performed 16 percent better on tests measuring their behavioral inattention, and their test scores improved by 23 percent after one month.  The patients with the sham treatment showed no improvement.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Neurology.

Even without treatment, patients can recover from hemispatial neglect after a few weeks.  But Dr. Randolph Marshall, chief of the stroke division of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, said the first few weeks of progress after a stroke, which are vital in a patient's overall recovery, can be derailed by the condition.

"The weakness they have from the stroke may be harder to rehabilitate because they can't pay attention to that weak limb," Marshall said. "Recovery will be delayed and potentially less robust if they're unable to participate fully and take advantage of their returning strength."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Powerful Magnets: Small Toys Can Pack a Deadly Punch

Polka Dot/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission is sounding its first ever warning about kits containing high powered magnets, often marketed to adults as desk toys or stress reducers.  The magnets can be linked to form patterns or shapes.

“They are office toys”, said CPSC chairman Inez Tenebaum.  “They unfortunately are finding their way into the hands of children to devastating result.”

Once swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause damage to one's intestines.

The CPSC has reports of 21 incidents involving the magnets.  In 16 cases they were swallowed and 10 children needed surgery to remove them.  And the problem is growing: There was one incident in 2009, seven in 2010, and 13 already this year.

“Many times parents take their child to a doctor multiple times before it is even diagnosed,” said Tenebaum.  She urged parents to “keep all magnets away from children,” and if you have them in the house and suspect your child may have swallowed them, “go immediately to the physician and ask for an x-ray so you can determine whether or not these magnets have reached the intestines of your child.”

According to the CPSC, it’s not just young children who’ve ingested these strong magnets.

“Also teenagers are accidently swallowing the magnets while using them to fake a body piercing such as a tongue ring,” Tenenbaum said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Radio Host's Son Hospitalized After Swallowing Tiny Magnets

BananaStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Television and radio personalities are used to talking about what happens in other people's lives, but for one Denver radio and TV host, the focus is now on her and her young son, who was hospitalized after he swallowed a handful of tiny magnets.

Denise Plante, the host of a morning radio show and a television show said on Facebook that her eight-year-old son accidentally swallowed the magnets after putting a ball of about 20 of them in his mouth. He was playing with what she said were the small magnets kids use to build things.

"Doing what a kid does, he stuck them in his mouth while joking around," Plante said. "The magnets were pulling his intestines together. He has five or six holes in his intestines and one hole in his stomach."

Plante went on to say her son is on a feeding tube and his stomach is being pumped. He's already had three surgeries and will be in the hospital at least another week.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said it knew of more than 30 children who'd been injured after ingesting magnets. A 20-month-old child died and 19 others required surgery. The CPSC put out a special alert in 2007, warning parents of the dangers of small magnets and has recalled millions of toys because of the hazards posed by small magnets.

"If two or more magnets or magnetic components or a magnet and another metal object (such as a small metal ball) are swallowed separately, they can attract one another through intestinal walls. This traps the magnets in place and can cause holes (perforations), twisting and/or blockage of the intestines, infection, blood poisoning (sepsis), and death," the CPSC wrote in the alert.

Since then, some manufacturers of toys with small magnets have since encased the magnets in plastic, so they can't be swallowed.

Dr. Sanjeev Dutta, an associate professor at Stanford School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif., wrote a case study of another little boy who swallowed a magnet from a toy set. In a 2008 issue of Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, he discussed the case of Braden Eberle, then four years old.

He came to the emergency room after having stomach pain for several weeks, and Dutta had to remove the magnets, which were stuck together through the walls of different parts of Braden's intestine. He removed them laparoscopically, but Braden got an infection from the magnets and had to be hospitalized for six days.

This case drove Dutta to warn others of the dangers magnets pose to children.

"Magnets, when we were kids, were made of ferrite," Dutta said. "The new magnets are exponentially more powerful than the ferrite magnets. When they swallow these magnets, they could die from this."

Denise Plante is sending out her own warning about toys like the one her son was playing with.

"Please don't buy these for your kids, throw them out if you have them," she said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio