Federal agency targets Denver magnet company with no history of injury

Categories: Business

Zen Magnets thumb.jpg
Zen Magnets
In the wake of the mass shooting in Aurora a month ago, gun-control advocates in Colorado and across the country have upped the ante in pushing for stricter policies. And at the same time, some people in Denver are wondering why the federal government is trying to shut down a local business that sells a different kind of allegedly dangerous product.

Tiny magnet balls.

Zen Magnets, a company based in Denver, is now facing an administrative complaint from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal agency that claims the small magnets Zen sells are a serious safety hazard. The CPSC is pushing the business to notify consumers and recall its products.

Zen Magnets photo, Flickr.jpeg
Zen Magnets
This CPSC case has already made headlines at the Denver Post, Fox31 and even got a mention in a recent New York Times article. But what hasn't been reported is the relatively surprising fact that in the history of all administrative complaints by the CPSC, this could be the very first in which a company being targeted has no record of injuries. So it seems strange that a federal agency is devoting resources to stopping this company's products, which are 5mm super-magnet balls essentially used as stress relievers and building blocks for sculptures.

"I'm frustrated, angry and a little bit scared," says Shihan Qu, the 25-year-old owner of Zen Magnets. "I'm scared personally because my business, my baby, is in danger."

Qu, who was previously based in Boulder, says that he looked up all past administrative complaints through the federal registry and could not find a single example of a company targeted that didn't have some sort of history of injuries. It would appear that Zen Magnets is only the eighth business to receive this kind of complaint, and the ones on record all followed reports of injuries, or even deaths in some cases.

As Qu notes in a petition he has set up to save his business, the CPSC is going after all magnet companies that manufacture or distribute these kinds of products that can be very dangerous if swallowed. Maxfield & Oberton Holdings, which creates Buckyballs, has also faced an administrative complaint, though its product has been the focus of reports of injuries. But Qu says that his target market is not children, and he attributes his clean safety record in part to the fact that he only sells online, which means the magnets aren't getting into the hands of children. His products, he says, are generally used by consumers who understand the magnets and actively seek them out.

The CPSC says it is being proactive in stopping a very serious safety hazard. As it writes in its complaint against Zen Magnets:

If two or more of the magnets are ingested and their magnetic forces pull them together, the magnets can pinch or trap the intestinal walls or other digestive tissue between them resulting in acute and long-term health consequences. Magnets that attract through the walls of the intestines result in progressive tissue injury, beginning with local inflammation and ulceration, progressing to tissue death, then perforation or fistula formation. Such conditions can lead to infection, sepsis, and death.

"We do not want to be an agency that simply waits for more injuries to occur before we act," says CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson. "We are alleging that there is a defect with their product. We don't want to wait for the next child to end up in emergency services."

For some perspective on the CPSC's history, the most recent administrative complaint before the CPSC began targeting magnets dates back to 2001 against a company called Daisy Manufacturing Company, which makes BB guns. As that complaint notes, there were cases of at least 15 deaths and 171 serious injuries, including brain damage and permanent paralysis caused by defects in this company's powerline airguns. And most affected were children under the age of 18.

Another action against Red Devil gas grills from the CPSC came after 44 reports of consumers suffering burns to legs, hands and fingers, including some instances of third degree burns -- after the grills collapsed during use.

Continue reading for further responses from the CPSC and letters of support for Zen Magnets.

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I don't understand this CSPC request, It's crazy! ANYTHING that the CSPC controls can be used improperly and kill someone.


Can we Ban Bleach? If you put it in your mouth, it can kill you! Should we ban hammers? If one falls from a high place, it could land on and kill a child... I watched a guy once, he tied a shirt around a pole and around his neck and twisted it until he passed out. Maybe we should ban shirts! When does it end? Why must I suffer the consequences of irresponsible people and their childrens actions? I'm not stupid enough to put magnets in my mouth. Maybe the CPSC would do a better job of keeping the public safe, by removing the idiots, and not the products of population. 


hey, 100 people die from swallowing pens every year ... lets go ban pens now


The Federal government of the USA is an out of control runaway fascist plutocracy, building an insane fascist police state. This story is just another of the endless stream of exponentially increasing social insanities promoted by that government!


There is no defect with this product! It is perfectly made. What is defective is the CPSC. If teenagers are using them to fake tongue piercings, then swallowing them accidentally, That is not the company's issue. The parents shouldn't let their children handle them if they are going to do stupid things, and the company shouldn't take flak for the child's stupid decision.


Furthermore, ZenMagnets are marketed to ADULTS and people 14+. Also, they ONLY sells their products ONLINE. Not in stores for kids to see. Basically only adults or some teenagers (with credit cards) can get ZenMagnets. And that is why this brand has had ZERO injuries or deaths come from their product.


@ZenMagnets wtf. There are *millions* of products that could kill you when swallowed. That’s not a reason to ban something. srsly wtf.


At what point do we finally just give up and live at the level of the dumbest person that we can find? All toys, games and food could kill you so why bother? OR you could get a clue! Just a thought.


Let's analyze some B.S. in the above quote taken from this article:


"Not more than a week ago there was a fatal shooting that occurred in a movie theater injuring and killing several people, including children. I have not heard a single word to ban of sales of the AR-15 that was used in the attack; a gun that 10 years ago would have been illegal to obtain."


You blithering idiot. Apparently you have never heard of Ed Perlmutter, Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Mayor Bloomberg, Sarah Brady or their ilk.  Maybe you can't read the paper or don't watch the TV news.  The blood hadn't dried on the theater carpet before these opportunists were on the air politicizing the Aurora tragedy. Oh, and Holmes also used grenades in his attack.  Why didn't CPSC ban these? Or the chemicals he used in the booby traps he set in his apartment.  But of course if they wer all banned,  maybe he would have done the same thing the VA Tech shooter, the Sikh temple shooter, the Ft Hood shooter or the Gabby Giffords shooter did - not use an assault rifle to commit mass murder.


Maybe you also fail to realize that all the AR-15's in existence in 1994 when the Clinton gun ban went into effect were grandfathered and they most certainly were sold all the time ten years ago. The so-called assault weapons ban wasn't about real military style assault weapons.  The military actually has a real historical (vs hysterical) definition of such weapons part of which is the fact that they are select fire machine guns.  Maybe you didn't bother to research that real machine guns have been heavily regulated and controlled since 1934.  You can't just go buy one at a show or gun store.


The AR-15 is most definitely not a machine gun like our soldiers carry.  It goes bang one time when the trigger is pulled just like John Wayne'r revolver. It and other so called assault weapons were banned for cosmetic features that liberals found menacing like flash suppressors, a "protruding hand grip", a collapsible or folding stock (an ergonomic feature) , a detachable magazine (been around for 120 years), a barrel shroud (ditto), a bayonet lug (heard of any drive-by bayonetings lately?), etc.


If you're going to trash a weapon for being something it's not, at least learn what you're lying about.  Here's a San Jose police officer that will explain the difference to the few old-fashioned liberals left out there that still think more than they emote: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysf8x477c30


Continuing with the quote:

"Each and every year children die because of firearms in the home. Why has the CPSC not required gun owners to lock up their weapons and provide proof of this, especially if they have children in the home?"


First of all, firearms in the home don't kill children.  I've never seen an inanimate object spring to life and go kill someone.  Maybe you have some special insight on sentient guns.  If so, these SETI folks are interested in hearing from you.




Finally, you may have heard of the Heller decision.  Then again, probably not since you don't read or watch TV news.  The US  Supreme Court in that case struck down a D.C. law requiring a gun owner to lock up their self defense firearm in their home.  Oh, and just for good measure, guns are regulated by BATFE.  The CPSC is prohibited from regulating their use by statute.


If all these facts are leaving you emotionally drained, maybe you should take a yoga class or hum a few bars of Kumbaya to get your chi back into alignment.



Well, if there's one thing the feds know and understand, it's tiny balls.


Thank you Mr. Levine for the complete rundown on this yet another example of Government bullying .

I wonder if this 25 yr old young man were Oliie North's son or perhaps of relation to a person of note or power, if we'd be hearing of this kind of PURE SHIT !

In this day and age of what is quickly becoming a 'dog eat dog' world, we should be celebrating and modelling the successes of this young man ! NOT tearing him down w/o anything remotely resembling reason or cause !

He made reference to this being his baby. I hope he hears his own words and takes them to heart.

Should they KIDNAP this child, I have full belief he has more than another remaining. He appears to be a man of creativity. 

This, I believe, he will eventually prevail and the lessons learned will be priceless when addressing future successful creations ! Let this be a lesson to the young man.

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

"We do not want to be an agency that simply waits for more injuries to occur before we act," says CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson. "We are alleging that there is a defect with their product. We don't want to wait for the next child to end up in emergency services."




Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid or ASA) is quite possibly the miracle drug of the 20th century. First created in 1853 by a French chemists named Charles Frederic Gerhardt, and patented in 1899 by Bayer, aspirin's three main uses are for fever reduction, heart attack and stroke prevention, and relieving minor aches and pains, including muscle aches, headaches, arthritis.


But aspirin has a dark side. If Aspirin had been developed in 2009, it would unlikely pass FDA guidelines. In a November 17, 2005 article in Medical Progress Today, Derek Lowe talks about why aspirin doesn't meet the cut. He calls aspirin"the best example" of a drug that we've taken for years, but doesn't meet today's standards. Lowe says aspirin "more or less doubles" the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, an event serious enough to put most sufferers in the hospital. The evidence in test animals is obvious. Lowe says, "Aspirin causes gastric lesions in rats and dogs, which are the standard small and large animal models for drug toxicity." 


An even darker side effect of aspirin may be Reye's syndrome. Children given aspirin for fevers and viral infections (chickenpox or influenza) have a higher chance of developing Reye's syndrome. Reye's is a rare but deadly illness that causes the brain and liver to swell. 


Aspirin may kill as many people as it saves. Some reports state as many as 10,000 people die from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen (as of 1996 there were approximately 7,600 annual deaths in the United States: Source). But Reye's disease related to aspirin intake is 100% preventable simply by not giving children aspirin, and even gastrointestinal bleeding deaths can be prevented with proper medical attention (taking aspirin on a regular basis only under your doctor's supervision).

michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

 @pookie1 Thanks for weighing in, Pookie. We're going to make your post an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats.


 @iluv2skico2 I think you went far off target here. I see your love for firearms is quite high. But I think the one great point you made here is "I've never seen an inanimate object spring to life and go kill someone." Inanimate objects don't kill people! This makes the magnets which when used properly or as intended have 0 ability to kill. 


On the opposite hand though, a gun, when used properly is intended to do just that. Kill.

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