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Deadly hazard to children

Magnetic Jewelry Clasp

The federal government brands magnets in toys a deadly hazard to children because the tiny, powerful objects can fall out and cause serious, even fatal, internal injuries when swallowed.

Yet the Consumer Product Safety Commission has not taken steps to regulate even more powerful magnets when they are sold in loose form as backings on children's earrings, the Tribune has found.

The earrings consist of a small decorative part -- such as a cupcake, a faux diamond, a dolphin -- with a magnet inside. They are held in place by putting a loose magnet behind the earlobe.

Independent tests of more than a dozen magnetic earrings done for the Tribune showed that the earring magnets all were at least as powerful as magnets found inside toys that have caused the death of one child and scores of other injuries. Some of the magnetic earrings were more than five times more powerful.