New Health Warning Issued About the Dangers of Water Bead Toys

New Health Warning Issued About the Dangers of Water Bead Toys

After years of injury reports and safety advisories, water beads continue to be a serious and growing health hazard for young children, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Tuesday.

The absorbent polymer beads are often marketed as colorful, slimy, sensory items for kids to play with. They can be as small as a stud earring  — little enough to swallow — but grow to the size of a marble or even a golf ball when immersed in water. Once inside a child’s body, they can cause gastrointestinal blockages.

The CPSC recorded nearly 7,000 water bead-related ingestion injuries in emergency rooms between 2018 and 2022.

The agency issued warnings this week about two products with toxicity risk, urging consumers to throw away water beads from the brands Jangostor and Tuladuo, which were sold on Amazon as recently as November 2023. According to the CPSC, the products contain unsafe levels of acrylamide, a chemical compound considered a probable human carcinogen. High levels of exposure can also have negative effects on the nervous and reproductive systems.

“The product warnings highlight that water bead hazards can go beyond ingestion, expansion and obstruction inside a child. Acrylamide is a known carcinogen,” the CPSC said in a release. “The large water beads in CPSC’s warnings contain levels of acrylamide in violation of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.” 

Jangostor and Tuladuo, both located in China, have not “agreed to an acceptable recall,” the CPSC said.

The agency has been issuing recalls and warnings about water beads for more than a decade, and some parents, nonprofits and lawmakers have pushed to ban the beads altogether.

Amazon, Walmart and Target said in December that they would stop selling water beads.

Ashley Haugen, a mother of two from San Antonio, bought her older daughter water beads for her 6th birthday in 2017. A week later, her younger daughter Kipley, then just 1 year old, developed a rash around her mouth, became fussy and wasn’t sleeping well. More than two months later, Kipley began vomiting violently, Haugen said. 

Emergency room doctors noticed a round mass in Kipley’s small intestine and performed an emergency surgery to remove what turned out to be pieces of water beads.

But problems persisted, Haugen said: In the following weeks, Kipley became clumsier and stopped talking or using her baby sign language.

Kipley’s developmental pediatrician “diagnosed her with toxic brain encephalopathy due to chemical exposure,” Haugen said. “It is a brain injury due to chemical exposure, so for her, it has changed the trajectory of her life.” 

The beads Kipley ingested contained acrylamide.


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