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Why Can Neodymium Magnets be Dangerous?

Neodymium is one of the most used magnets today. Since their invention, these magnets have been increasingly in demand and have also expanded their uses. Although, with its rise in popularity, dangers and risks have also been discovered. In this article, we talk about the possible dangers Neodymium magnets bring.

What are Neodymium Magnets?

The fourth member of the lanthanide family of rare earth elements is neodymium. According to the periodic chart, it has an atomic number of 60. Neodymium does not naturally exist in metallic form or unmixed with other lanthanides, yet it is unexpectedly the 27th most common element in the Earth’s crust. They are constructed of neodymium, boron, and iron alloy and are the most well-known rare earth magnets. Neodymium is especially antiferromagnetic and demonstrates magnetic properties in its pure form, but only at temperatures lower than 19 K (254.2 °C; 425.5 °F). They are ranked according to the output intensity of magnetic fields, demagnetization resistance, temperature coefficients, and the advised highest working temperature. Sintered NdFeB magnets fall under a well-recognized classification system on a global scale. They have values ranging from 28 to 52. N is placed before the values to indicate neodymium, also known as sintered NdFeB magnets. The letters corresponding to intrinsic coercivity and maximum operating temperatures are placed after the numbers. These range from the default (up to 80 °C or 176 °F) to TH (230 °C or 446 °F), and they are all positively correlated with the Curie temperature. A greater number would indicate a stronger magnet. However, regardless of grading, all neodymium magnets demonstrate extraordinary magnetism compared to all other types of magnets. Neodymium magnets are incredibly strong due to their high saturation magnetization and resistance to demagnetization. One of the key advantages of the NdFeB magnet is its ability to perform the same job with a smaller magnet as with a larger one. As a result, the overall size of the equipment may be reduced while the cost may also be dropped.

Where are Neodymium Magnets Being Used?

Today, Neodymium magnets have a wide range of uses. The worldwide neodymium market size is predicted to reach USD 3.39 billion by 2028, according to a new analysis by Grand View Research, Inc. It is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 5.3% between 2021 and 2028. Neodymium magnets are employed in a wide range of consumer and automotive electrical equipment. With a revenue share of more than 55.0% in 2020, the automotive segment led the market in terms of end-use. Furthermore, they must operate items such as air conditioning inverters, washing machines and dryers, and refrigerators. According to forecasts, the healthcare industry will also open up new opportunities for market suppliers because it implements MRI scanners and other medical apparatus.

The versatility of neodymium magnets means that while they can be used in heavy or industrial machines, as mentioned in the paragraph above, they can also be used in small and everyday-use materials. A few to mention are household appliances, laptops, computers, different types of loudspeakers, and even toys.

Neodymium magnets have increasing uses as the global market shifts to more lasting and innovative products. The market is expanding due to the need for permanent magnets in conventional and electric automobiles. The growing middle-class population is also projected to fuel demand for these items, benefiting market growth. Moreover, the demand for electrical and electronic items is predicted to help the market expand over the long run.

Why Can Neodymium Magnets be Dangerous?

In general, neodymium magnets are safe. No proof exists that neodymium magnets and their qualities directly or negatively affect people or other living things. There are instances where individuals believe that neodymium magnets benefit health, although, as with their harmful effects, no research or hypotheses have been established to support this claim. The neodymium magnets don’t damage people as long as they are handled carefully and prudence.

Although, there are still many dangers and risks neodymium magnets can pose. The first risk is related to its strong magnetism. Its tremendous magnetism poses the first risk. Neodymium magnets differ from ‘regular’ magnets in that they attract and move differently because they are easy to magnetize yet difficult to demagnetize. Due to the power generated when they collide while they are magnetized, they travel towards each other with a high rate of acceleration and may even shatter. These fast motions can result in wounds, fractures, and impingements. Other than that, the strong magnetism may cause things to get stuck and unmovable. The magnetism of these neodymium magnets can be viewed as hundreds of kilograms of weight.

Magnets made with neodymium are delicate and brittle. They create extremely combustible dust when they are damaged (e.g., when they chip, crack, peel, or break), when they are being machined, when they are being sanded, etc. Anyone with nickel allergies should also avoid neodymium magnets because most of them are nickel-plated. It is also generally hazardous in the workplace because gases and damps can be ingested through the air. Particularly after prolonged exposure, this may result in pulmonary embolisms. The liver may be at risk when neodymium builds up in the body.

Another health risk is ingestion. The body is incapable of digesting the components of neodymium magnets. Neodymium magnets can upset the body due to their potent magnetic pull. The strong attraction from swallowing neodymium magnets poses a risk to the body’s tissues. They can move the digestive tract or press on or crush various tissues.

Furthermore, neodymium magnets can block pathways of the body, like the intestines, causing more problems. Ingestion of neodymium magnets, up to 10 times stronger than ordinary neodymium magnets, has surfaced as a severe health risk in children, causing intestinal perforation, volvulus, and death. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last 2020, children are at an increased risk of swallowing “high-powered, rare-earth” neodymium magnets after rules prohibiting them from appearing in toys such as building sets and spinning toys were lifted several years ago. In different countries, using strong magnets (like neodymium) in toys has been banned and has since significantly decreased emergency cases. While in other countries, bans are being demanded the safety of children.

As discussed, neodymium magnets are very powerful. Thus those who have heart pacemakers should also be warned or notified when one is nearby. Depending on the manufacturer, neodymium magnets may or may not be used in the pacemaker’s mechanism. However, there is evidence that when near powerful neodymium magnets, pacemakers may lose their rhythm and synchronization. Other surgically implanted medical devices, such as implantable cardioverter-defibrillators, hearing aids, and metal components, have the same danger. Also, with the increasing number of gadgets and aids being innovated in the healthcare industry, any individual who wears or uses any apparatus with potential neodymium magnets should not risk getting near neodymium magnets or letting the apparatus close to it.

These are only a few of the known dangers neodymium magnets can pose. There are still uses and materials we have not yet accounted for on how they may interact or affect neodymium magnets. So, when dealing with them, one should always account for the possible scenarios that may occur. The best way to deal with neodymium magnets is not to underestimate them; Neodymium magnets appear like other magnets. With this, people should be well informed when handling such material.

Summary

Magnets made of neodymium have been used for a long time. They are employed in several industries and are in higher demand. They have not only numerous applications but also numerous threats. Compared to regular magnets, neodymium magnets are far more powerful and have a greater range of magnetism, making them much more unpredictable and hazardous. They significantly impact electronics, medical equipment, and navigational tools. Other than that, they are very explosive and emit brittle dust. The number of cases dealing with neodymium ingestion has also alarmed many countries and the healthcare industry. They are now also finding ways to safely remove these strong neodymium magnets from a person’s body.

When dealing with neodymium magnets, attention and care should always be taken. Wearing safety equipment, learning about their characteristics, and being careful when utilizing them are just a few of these measures.

We should constantly remember that there are hazards and problems with neodymium magnets as we move toward innovation and utilize these magnets more frequently. To ensure proper handling and care of neodymium magnets, always seek expert advice and make an effort to interact with your supplier. ROBO Magnetic is one of the most trusted suppliers of neodymium magnets. You may know more about them here: www.robomagnetic.com/terminology.

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Article by

ROBO Magnetic Product Team

We are the manufacturer with 16 years of experience in custom neodymium magnets.

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