Walmart and Amazon have both announced that they will no longer offer water beads marketed to children due to safety concerns and severe injuries.
Water beads are small, colourful balls that are highly absorbent, but they are also dangerous to children who swallow them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States has reported that water beads have caused 4,500 ER visits in the last four years.
The tiny beads can easily grow in a child’s body and don’t show up on an X-ray machine, which is why there has been an increasing call for their ban. When soaked in water, water beads grow into a slippery, squishy ball of fun, but when swallowed, the tiny, super-expanding beads can cause vomiting and intestinal blockages, as well as life-threatening injuries, according to Consumer Reports’ and CPSC’s extensive testing.
The tests found chemicals such as acrylamide a likely carcinogen which is toxic to the brain and BPA which is known to have been linked to some cancers and fertility issues.
Consumer Reports and other safety groups have called for a ban on water beads. Earlier this year, Health Canada warned that water beads can be life-threatening for young children, as they can grow 1,500 to 1,500 times their original size when put in water.