Comment from Jordin Kare
This is a Comment on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Proposed Rule: Safety Standard for Magnet Sets
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I am a Ph.D. physicist, and I strongly object to the Proposed Rule and to the argument that magnet sets have no value which offsets their potential hazard.
Magnets are among the best and most memorable tools for developing the curiosity of older children and young adults in the physical world. Many, many physicists and engineers have fond memories of playing with magnets. For older students, the spherical magnets included in these sets convey, in a unique, tactile fashion, fundamental characteristics of geometry, sphere packing, crystal structures, and many other important scientific and mathematical principles.
It is heartbreaking to read of children hurt by misuse of powerful magnets, but it is difficult to believe that a combination of warnings and education cannot reduce this hazard substantially over time.
Much of the current hazard clearly arises because powerful rare-earth magnets are new and unfamiliar, so that neither sellers nor buyers (nor, judging by the reported failures of initial diagnosis, many non-specialist doctors) realize they can be dangerous to children. No actual evidence is presented that people will not learn to be more careful with these magnets when children are present; merely speculation that, because they appeal to children, they will forever constitute a hazard. Brightly-colored over-the-counter pills may be comparably hazardous to children (and in some cases of questionable benefit to adults), but because people have been educated for generations about the hazards of letting children swallow pills, they have learned not to give children access to them.
Simply because magnets are sold as "toys" does not make them of negligable value. Simply because people have not yet fully understood their hazards, it is not true that they cannot own and use them safely. We should encourage responsible ownership of these fascinating kits, not ban them.
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Comment Period Closed
Nov 19 2012, at 11:59 PM ET
Tracking Number: 1jw-8225-plnv
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Date Posted: Nov 24, 2012
RIN: Not Assigned
Submitter Name: Jordin Kare
Organization Name: N/A