Buckeyballs And The Csc

Submitted By Crumbmuncher
Words: 2168
Pages: 9

Buckeyballs and the CPSC
What the heck is a Buckyball? For the scientifically minded, strictly speaking they are structures of carbon atoms, also known as buckminsterfullerenes, which look like and are named in reference to the creator of the geodesic dome R. Buckminster Fuller (Chemical of the Week). However to most people a Buckyball is an adult desk toy made up of magnetic balls that can be shaped into numerous forms. Since the very nature of the product is for adults and is specifically marketed to them this may seem like a very innocuous and unremarkable item. However there have been reported cases of children getting a hold of the small magnets these are made up of and swallowing them (Reed, 2012). In response to this problem the Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) has asked the company that makes the products to recall them, to which the company, Maxfield & Oberton, is saying no. (Suddath, 2012) Considering the cost to design, build, and market a product, the CPSC has, through the power of law, to have a considerable effect on manufacturing companies. In the case of the Buckeyball, this is the only product that Maxfield & Oberton sells. A recall or ban on its products could effectively put them out of business. However, recent case law from the CPSC may hold the clue to Buckeyball’s survival. First, a little history. There are numerous government agencies tasked with protecting the public from harm. One is the aforementioned CPSC. The Consumer Product Safety Commission was established in 1973 through an act of federal law with the mission to “protect the public against “unreasonable risks of injuries associated with consumer products.” (Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC). According to their own website they are responsible for a reduction in the rate of deaths and injuries related to consumer products by 30 percent in the past 30 years. (About CPSC). In order to accomplish their mission they are given legal authority to order recalls or ban products entirely. (Allgov - CPSC) A lawful ban on a product is used if the CPSC can determine no feasible standard to protect the public from harm. (Allgov - CPSC) But what if they are ostensibly protecting the public from themselves? Does this still follow the spirit of the law? Many popular items have made their way to the island of misfit toys because they were deemed unsafe. One of the most famous examples in recent years was numerous toys from China that used lead based paints (Lipton, 2007). Products of this nature are obvious targets for recall as any contact with the item is dangerous. However, remember the outdoor game lawn darts which were banned in 1988. (Banned Toy Museum) This toy, or game if you will, was responsible for over 7000 injuries. (Banned Toy Museum) If used as intended, the lawn darts were arced into the air towards a ring on the ground, much like the common game of horseshoes. Common sense would dictate not to throw these at people and keep them away from children who cannot be expected to have any common sense. However, many children were injured using lawn darts, and some even killed. (Soniak, 2012) But was it the product that was inherently dangerous, or the unsupervised children using them? Consider the seemingly innocent baseball bat, the instrument of America’s great past time. A simple web search using the phrase “crimes involving baseball bats” turned up 463000 results. That seems pretty dangerous, yet there has been no ban on the sale of baseball bats issued by the CPSC. Just as the injuries caused by misused baseball bats are the responsibility of those using them, so too were the injuries caused by those misusing lawn darts, and not the products themselves. It is notable that not all products that fall into the common sense category are cases of children using adult items. In one case it’s the exact opposite. In the case of the popular summer time kids toy the Slip and Slide, it was the adults who were