WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal lawmaker is calling for a national ban on a toy that 9 Investigates first warned you about almost a year ago.
Investigative Reporter Karla Ray first reported when a local toddler nearly died after accidentally swallowing a water bead. The “Ban Water Beads Act” would instruct the Consumer Product Safety Commission to ban the beads that are marketed as children’s toys.
The danger is in the way the beads expand in water, which can cause intestinal blockages that, in some cases, have been deadly.
The head of the CPSC says this is the fastest way to get what the agency says is an unsafe product off the market.
Henry Gent, of Ormond Beach, just turned 2; a major milestone considering he nearly died last December.
“He was special anyway, but even more so now, we’re all so grateful,” his mom Sara Gent said. “Not everybody had the same outcome as we did.”
When we first met the Gents, Henry was still recovering after having major surgery to remove water beads that nearly killed him. The tiny specs he accidentally swallowed absorbed so much liquid inside his body that they blocked his intestine.
In September 2023, the CPSC announced a manufacturer recall of one water bead kit after a different toddler tragically died.
“We know it’s an uphill battle, and we’re really grateful that there is a step in the right direction,” Gent said at that time. “It’s really hard when you see babies going through the same thing your son did, and companies just aren’t stopping.”
Now, thanks to the efforts of Gent and other parents, New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone is introducing the Ban Water Beads Act, to remove any brand of the beads from the market.
“I know people are going to say, ‘do you have to prohibit these completely? Aren’t there some that are safe?’ And the answer is no, you have to ban them,” Pallone said.
The CPSC Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric agrees, calling the legislation the most effective solution to this issue.
“So long as they’re being sold, the hazards are going to continue to exist,” Hoehn-Saric said.
The CPSC says if there are children around, water beads should not be. The agency believes between 2016 and 2022, 7,800 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms due to water bead injuries, with at least one death.
Gent plans to travel to Washington, D.C. next year to do whatever she can to help this legislation pass.
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