You might want to think twice about allowing your son or daughter to play with water beads.
Tiny and colorful, the polymer spheres resemble candy and can be irresistible to kids – especially infants and toddlers who’ll put just about any small object into their mouth if given the opportunity. But water beads don’t just pose a choking hazard. Because they can expand well beyond their normal size when exposed to liquid, water beads can also cause brain damage or dangerous gastrointestinal blockages if swallowed or hearing loss if they expand while lodged in a child’s ear canal.
The Killino Firm’s Child Injury Lawyers believe the victims of defective toys and other dangerous products are entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering. If your child was seriously hurt while playing with water beads, please call our law firm toll-free at 877-875-2927 to speak with a top personal injury attorney and learn more about your legal rights.
Water Beads: What’s the Problem?
In addition to being trendy additions to gardens, vases, decorative bowls, and floral arrangements, water beads are also popular toys for sensory play at daycares or for school art projects. Numerous brands are sold online at Amazon.com and Walmart.com and craft stores, dollar stores, and big-box retailers across the country.
Whatever they’re called — aquabeads, water balls, bio-gel balls, hydrogels, jelly beads, scooper beads, hydro orbs, water pearls, water storing crystals, water orbs, gel beads, polyacrylamide beads, PAM, super absorbent polymer balls, fairy orbs, orbeez refills, dinosaur eggs, rainbow balls, and water balz – water beads are made from an ultra-absorbent polymer or gel that can grow to 200-400 times their normal size once exposed to liquid.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, several children have required emergency care after swallowing water beads. In June, for example, Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, reported that two toddlers had required emergency surgery to remove absorbent polymer beads that had expanded and lodged in their intestines.
In 2015, a 2-year-old girl was hospitalized after swallowing 11 tiny beads that swelled to the size of marbles inside her intestinal tract. It took her nine hours to pass the beads in the emergency room. A second child underwent surgery that same year to remove a now recalled water-absorbing ball that could grow to the size of a racquetball.
In February 2016, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was notified of 5-year-old and 7-year-old kids who placed water beads in their ears. Because their doctors could not see the clear beads, they were initially treated for ear infections. The actual cause of their symptoms wasn’t discovered until the beads had expanded and had to be surgically removed. Both children sustained eardrum damage, and one suffered permanent hearing loss.
In addition, there has been at least one case of a child developing a brain injury after ingesting a water bead which contained the toxic chemical acrylamide despite the gel-like spheres being labeled “non-toxic”.
Water Bead Injuries Trigger Product Recalls
In recent years, reports of child injuries in the United States and fatalities overseas prompted the CPSC to announce voluntary recalls for several types of water-absorbing balls, beads, and toys shaped like fruit and animals.
Be Amazing! Toys Monster Science and Super Star Science Colossal Balls
On July 14, 2014, Be Amazing! Toys recalled around 15,300 (14,200 in the United States and 1,200 in Canada) Monster Science Colossal Water Balls (model #7255) and Super Star Science! Colossal Water Balls (model #7704) for a severe ingestion hazard.
According to the CPSC, the marble-size polymer balls could absorb water and swell to 400-times their normal size. While no injuries were linked to these particular products, the Commission was aware of one incident involving an 8-month-old girl who had undergone intestinal surgery after swallowing a similar water-absorbing toy.
These recalled products were sold at specialty retailers and education centers nationwide and online at Amazon.com, BeAmazingToys.com, and WorldMarket.com from September 2010 through November 2012 for about $3 per package. Monster Science packages contained eight balls and “Growth Powder.” Super Star Science! packages included five balls. The balls were sold in an assortment of blue, green, orange, purple, red, yellow, or clear colors.
The CPSC urged consumers to immediately take the toys away from children and contact Be Amazing! Toys for a refund.
Be Amazing! Toys Monster Science Growing Spider
In September 2013, Be Amazing! Toys recalled around 25,000 Monster Science Growing Spider Toys that could pose a serious ingestion hazard if swallowed.
These products retailed for between $3 and $5 and were sold at:
- Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores nationwide from August 2011 to August 2013
- Spirit Halloween stores nationwide from August 2011 to November 2011 and from August 2012 to November 2013
- Target stores nationwide from September to November 2012
The recall involved Monster Science Growing Spider toy sets, model number 7280, that consisted of one polymer spider and three “spider eggs.” The marble-sized polymer spider eggs could absorb up to 800-times their weight in water and grow up to eight times their original size. The Be Amazing! Toys star logo and the words: “Monster Science Growing Spider,” “Ages 8+,” “Just drop in water,” “Grow Giant Spider Eggs,” and “Eggs Grow Up to 8X Original Size” were printed on the front of the packaging. The model number was on the bottom of the back of the packaging. The front and back of the packaging had warnings not to use the toy without adult supervision.
Consumers were instructed to immediately take the toys away from children and contact Be Amazing! Toys for a refund.
Eco Novelty Cosmo Beads
On September 10, 2013, Eco-Novelty recalled about 3,500 Cosmo Beads Jumbo Size Colorful Water Balls and Jumbo Multipurpose Colorful Water Balls after a child ingested a similar water-absorbing polymer ball that had to be surgically removed.
The recalled sets were available for purchase at Amazon.com, ifleemarket.com, and crystalsoilusa.com from June 2011 through August 2013 for between $2 and $20. Cosmo Beads Jumbo Size was sold in single packets of beads in various colors: clear, green, purple, red, and mixed colors. Each pack contained a variety of bead sizes. The front of the Jumbo Size package has a picture of a hand holding two water balls and the words “Grows up to 600X (1.5″) Size.”
Cosmo Beads Jumbo Multipurpose came in three packets per set. Each pack contained beads in one size and came in clear, dark purple, and orange colors. The front of the Jumbo Multipurpose packet has a picture of flowers in a glass vase and the words “Deco Centerpiece: Toys-Games: Plant-Vacation watering.”
Consumers were warned to immediately take these recalled toys away from children and contact Eco-Novelty for a refund.
Doodlebutt Jelly BeadZ Jumbo BeadZ and Magic Growing Fruity Fun Toys
In December 2013, Doodlebutt recalled about 1,500 Jelly BeadZ Jumbo BeadZ and Magic Growing Fruity Fun toys. While these products had not been associated with any injuries, the CPSC was aware of one incident in the United States involving a similar product. Water-absorbing polymer beads and balls were also linked to two overseas cases, including one death.
These recalled toys could be purchased at Amazon.com from February 2012 through September 2013 for about $9. Jumbo Beadz were sold old in a package consisting of three separate 2.5-inch x 2-inch clear, resealable bags inside a 3.5-inch x 4-inch clear, resealable bag. Each smaller bag had eight to 12 water balls of slightly different sizes. The balls came in clear, blue, red, orange, yellow, green, and purple colors. The front of the larger bag had a multi-colored label with the words “Jelly BeadZ,” “Easy to follow directions,” and had instructions for use.
Magic Growing Fruity Fun toys were water-absorbing polymers in the shapes of apples, bananas, butterflies, cherries, grapes, pineapples, roses, and strawberries. They were sold in 3.5-inch x 4-inch, clear, resealable bags containing seven assorted shapes. They came in blue, green, orange, pink, red and yellow. The label on the front of the bag has the words “For ‘Kidz’ of All Ages,” “Jelly BeadZ,” “Bouncy and Beautiful,” “Colorfast,” “Non-Toxic,” “Safe for the Environment,” and other words that describe uses for the product. The back of the package had two smaller labels. One label contained instructions for use, and the other had a barcode with “XU00EC1JRN” beneath it.
Consumers were advised to immediately take Jumbo Beadz and Magic Growing Fruity Fun toys away from children and contact Doodlebutt for a refund.
What Happens if My Child Swallowed a Water Bead?
Despite their known dangers and recent recalls, liquid-absorbing polymer beads, balls, and toys can still be purchased online and at stores around the country. However, they’re not a good choice for infants, toddlers, or any other child likely to place small objects in their mouth, ears, or nose.
Older children should only play with water beads under close supervision. The beads should be securely stored away when not being used.
Signs that your son or daughter might have swallowed water beads include:
- Refusing to eat
- Complaints of something stuck in the throat or chest
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling and soreness
Head to the emergency room immediately if you think your son or daughter might have ingested a water bead or suspect that one has become lodged in their ear or nose. To reduce the likelihood of expansion, do not give the child anything to drink or allow them to bathe or swim. Do not use eardrops or make any attempt to dislodge beads from their ears or nose on your own.
Contact an Experienced Child Injury Lawyer
As a nationally recognized Child Injury Lawyer, Attorney Jeffrey Killino has successfully handled a wide range of personal injury and wrongful death cases involving defective toys and children’s products. If your son or daughter suffered an intestinal injury, eardrum damage, or hearing loss due to an expanding water bead toy, Jeffrey Killino, and his legal staff will commit the resources necessary to ensure your family obtains the compensation and justice you deserve. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today at 1-877-875-2927.