Illegal Uses of Neodymium Magnets
Neodymium magnets are not a controlled substance unless used in a manner that violates Federal Law. In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulates neodymium.
However, there are no current regulations against the recreational use of neodymium magnets other than those which may apply regionally or locally.
Neodymium magnets are legal in most countries, but regulations vary by location. In some countries such as India, neodymium magnet manufacture is illegal without government authorization. However, it’s essential to understand the legality of these applications before deciding to buy.
Are Neodymium Magnets Illegal?
Neodymium magnets are legal in most countries, with a few exceptions. In the United States, CPSC regulations govern neodymium sales. The CPSC has set guidelines regarding the maximum strength of neodymium magnets sold to consumers.
These guidelines ensure consumers use neodymium magnets safely and responsibly. It’s illegal to sell unsafe neodymium magnets in the US.
The legality of neodymium magnets largely depends on your locality and the type of neodymium magnets. Some areas restrict the kind of neodymium magnets online, or physical stores can sell, while others do not.
Your country may have specific laws regarding the use or sale of neodymium magnets, so it’s essential to research before purchasing them online or from a local vendor.
Neodymium isn’t illegal, but there are limitations. Neodymium is sold in all shapes and sizes and is used in various applications. Understand the legality of these applications before deciding to buy.
According to Scientific American, neodymium legality largely depends on your locality and the type of neodymium magnets you are considering. For example, if you purchase a neodymium magnet for fashioning accessories, you buy this legally.
Nonetheless, if you intend to use it in any manner which involves its magnetic properties (pendants, jewelry, toys), then your local laws may not allow it. The same applies to industrial uses, but experts will primarily grant access to where they occur.
Why Are Neodymium Magnets Banned?
Neodymium magnets are banned in some countries because they harm children. At the same time, some countries lifted the ban.
The UK government is considering banning the sale of small, powerful neodymium magnets that have been linked to severe injuries in children.
While the US temporarily lifted the ban on neodymium, the ban in Canada is still valid. The reason remains that it causes health complications when swallowed by young children.
Some countries partially uplifted the ban. In Australia, this product was banned for individual sales. However, institutions can still purchase neodymium magnets.
The National Health Service (NHS) has called for the small powered neodymium magnets sold as toys, decorative items, and piercing to be banned as there has been an increase in cases where children swallowed them.
The neodymium magnets cause serious internal injuries if swallowed, mainly if they attract each other across bowel loops. They can also perforate the stomach or intestines and cause further complications.
The NHS says that there are no known treatments for swallowing neodymium magnets and that surgery is often needed to remove them from the body.
There have been at least 20 cases of children swallowing powerful neodymium magnets since 2004, including one death in 2010 when a toddler swallowed two neodymium magnets from a toy set.
What Type of Neodymium Magnets are Banned?
The CPSC recalled the sale of high-powered neodymium magnetic balls in 2013, which were marketed as therapeutic magnetic balls and sold under brand names like Zen Magnets or Buckyballs. These balls contain neodymium, a rare-earth element that can be extremely dangerous if swallowed by a child.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled the sale of high-powered magnetic balls in 2013. The CPSC issued a voluntary recall after receiving reports of serious injuries to children who had ingested the neodymium magnets, including swallowing and intestinal perforation
Neodymium is a strong magnet that attracts other neodymium magnets. Ingesting the small balls can cause serious problems, such as intestinal blockage and perforation. They are often attracted to one another in the intestines and cannot pass through the digestive tract.
The ban on small, high-powered neodymium magnets was overturned in a court case that ruled that the CPSC had not proven the danger of these products and could not enforce the ban.
The CPSC argued that there was no proof that these products were safe for use by children, yet the evidence that they were unsafe was unsatisfactory enough.
Are Neodymium Magnets Harmful to Humans?
Neodymium magnets are safe for humans and animals if you handle them well.
Neodymium magnets are powerful and dangerous if swallowed or inhaled. The neodymium magnet will attract itself to other magnetic materials in the body, such as metallic objects and bone, which cause serious internal damage.
Children or toddlers should not handle neodymium magnets. Children below 12 years have an increased chance of swallowing them accidentally. Unfortunately, they don’t fully understand the dangers of swallowing small items like neodymium magnets.
The neodymium magnet comprises metal alloys called neodymium, iron, and boron, which are harmless to humans.
However, if children or pets swallow these neodymium magnets, they can cause serious internal damage.
People who handle these neodymium magnets must know how to keep them away from small children and pets.
Precautions You Should Take While Handling Neodymium Magnets
- Neodymium magnets are brittle so keep them away from hard or sharp surfaces.
- Never handle neodymium magnets near electrical or electronic devices.
- Never use force to pull two neodymium magnets apart as this can chip the material.
- If you must handle neodymium neodymium magnets, always wear gloves and safety glasses.
- Keep neodymium magnets away from young children and do not allow them to play with them.
- Neodymium magnets are very brittle and must be handled with care to ensure that they do not get damaged or cause injury to you.
Customer Buying Tips
These consumer safety tips should be helpful when buying magnetic balls.
- Manually operated with more than 2 kilograms of magnetic mass; or
Powered by an electric motor and have a combined magnetic mass greater than 5 kilograms.
- Ensure that all the magnetic surfaces are smooth and clean.
- If you ignore this warning and assemble these neodymium magnets into a sphere, or any other shape, you do so at your own risk.
- Only people who understand the risks involved should perform this hazardous activity.
- These neodymium magnets are not toys, games, or puzzles.
- These consumer safety tips should be helpful when buying magnetic balls.
Common Uses of Neodymium Magnets
Neodymium magnets have a wide range of uses. Some of the more common ones are:
Using neodymium magnets in electrical motors is one of the most common uses for these materials. These neodymium magnets create a strong magnetic field that causes electrons to flow through a coil of wire at high speeds. This creates an electric current that turns the motor shaft.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
An MRI machine uses these neodymium magnets to create images by aligning hydrogen atoms within water molecules in the body’s tissues. When this happens, they emit radio waves that can be detected by the MRI machine’s sensors and converted into an image that shows up on the screen.
Fastening, Holding, and Retrieving Tools
Fastening and holding tools also often use neodymium magnets because they have high strength compared to other types of permanent magnetism like ferrite or alnico materials.
These tools include clamps or clasps used by construction workers or mechanics. They use them when they need something strong enough to hold heavy pieces together until they are ready for installation elsewhere on-site. Examples are furniture assembly tools such as screws or nails, doorbells and door locks, and light fixtures.
The neodymium magnets used in wind turbines generate electricity from the wind. They are attached to the blades of the turbine. Also, they can rotate at high speeds to generate electricity by converting kinetic energy into electrical energy.
Hearing aids have been using neodymium magnets since the 1990s. They provide a stronger magnetic field than other materials such as cobalt or iron for magnetic hearing aids. A stronger magnetic field can help improve sound amplification for people with hearing loss.
Speakers, Headphones, and Microphones
Speakers, headphones, and microphones use neodymium magnets. They produce an electromagnetic field that moves back and forth while creating an electric current. It then causes sound waves to vibrate air pressure which causes us to hear sounds around us.
Examples include music playing through speakers or voices speaking through microphones. It could be during phone calls using smartphones like iPhones or Android phones with Bluetooth headsets connected to them via Bluetooth wireless technology.
Vending Machine Sensors
Vending machines use neodymium magnets to sense the coin’s weight and return the correct amount of change.
Neodymium magnets are used as sensors, such as in a compass or a magneto-optical disk drive.
Neodymium magnets create remote-controlled actuators for opening/closing doors or windows.
Some countries have banned neodymium magnets, while most haven’t. Regardless of the ban, it has multiple uses, making lives more manageable.
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