Major retailers including Amazon, Target and Walmart will stop selling water beads marketed to children amid calls for a ban on the colorful, water-absorbing balls sold as toys that can be potentially fatal if swallowed .
The retailers, along with Etsy and Alibaba, are halting the sale and marketing of water beads to children after receiving pressure from safety and consumer advocates as well as politicians, Consumer Reports reported on Wednesday.
The development comes a month after the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned that the beads can expand to many times their size once inside a child’s body. The agency’s chairman also expressed support for a bill that would ban the product.
Often purchased for older siblings, expanded water beads have been found in the stomachs, intestines, ears, noses and even lungs of infants and toddlers, according to Consumer Reports. Waters beads were behind about 7,800 emergency room visits from 2016 to 2022, CPSC estimates.
The pearls have also been the subject of rememberwith the latest announced in September and involves activity sets with water beads sold exclusively at Target. The recalls came after a 10-month-old boy died in July from swallowing a pearl in Wisconsin and was seriously injured late last year in Maine.
Amazon confirmed its new policy in an email to CBS News, along with Etsy, Target and Walmart; Alibaba said it is banning the sale of water pearls to the United States in an October press release release.
“For safety reasons, Amazon will no longer allow the sale of water beads marketed to children, including as toys, art supplies, or sensory play. We work hard to ensure that the products offered in our store are safe, and we has teams dedicated to developing and updating our policies, evaluating listings and continuously monitoring our store to prevent unsafe and non-compliant products from being listed,” the retailer said.
Target also said it would no longer sell water beads marketed to children 12 and under in stores or online.
“In light of increasing safety concerns, we will no longer sell water beads marketed to children,” a spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch in an email.
A Walmart spokesman said it had “already taken steps to remove” expanding water bead toys and crafts from its stores and online.
An Etsy spokesperson confirmed that water beads are prohibited on its platform, stating in an email, “These items may not be sold on Etsy regardless of their marketing or intended use.”
Rep. Frank Pallone, D., New Jersey,to ban water beads marketed to children, saying at a news conference that “Walmart, Amazon and Target all sell these things in different forms.”
“We did a recent search on Amazon and we got 3,000 results, so it’s very widespread,” the lawmaker added.