Last Maker of Strong Magnets Deemed Hazard to Children Fights Safety Ban

Via New York Times

Published OCT. 2, 2014

Shihan Qu New York Times Zen Magnets

Buckyballs are dead — banned by federal authorities as a threat to children who might ingest them. But Shihan Qu is waging a lonely battle to save his version of the powerful little magnetic toys.

Mr. Qu is the only manufacturer still fighting the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which has demanded that Buckyballs and similar magnets be recalled after children were injured after swallowing them.

Mr. Qu’s fight to keep selling his product, Zen Magnets, is an unusual clash between a lone entrepreneur and the safety commission, which has made these types of magnets the centerpiece of its most aggressive action in years.

It is a fight Mr. Qu knows he may not win.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about that recently, whether or not this is worth it,” Mr. Qu, 27, said in a recent interview. “Of course it’s very stressful, but at this point stress is nothing new to me.”

The ingestion hazard gained national attention when a safety agency began a two-year battle with Maxfield & Oberton, the creator of Buckyballs, sets of highly magnetic stacking spheres that were recalled in July. The company shut down in 2012.New Safety Rules Weighed for MagnetsSEPT. 10, 2014
Mr. Qu’s is a quixotic battle to save his company in the face of what he sees as an overly aggressive safety campaign. He says what many in his position might say: This fight is about more than just the money. Legitimate safety concerns, he argues, must be balanced by the rights of small businesses and entrepreneurs.

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