Amazon, Walmart, & Target Decide To Stop Selling Water Beads After Safety Experts Call for a Ban

Major retailers including Amazon, Target, and Walmart have made the voluntary decision to stop selling all water beads marketed for children. The move comes after safety experts, government officials, lawmakers, and public health professionals called for a ban on the toys. It’s also just three months after the Chuckle & Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kits were recalled when one infant death was reported.

The tiny water beads — that are often used as a sensory toy — can expand to 100 times their initial size and weight when exposed to liquid, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). If ingested by a child, they can continue to grow inside the body, posing major health risks. Per the CPSC, they can be choking and obstruction hazards, causing intestinal obstruction, serious injury, or death. They may even require surgery to remove, though it can be hard to find them on typical X-rays since they’re mostly made up of water.

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Last month, US Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. introduced legislation for a national ban on beads marketed to kids.

“They are specifically marketed to kids. In a single small package, you can have 25, 50, or even 75 thousand of these beads and it just takes one to cause harm to a child,” the New Jersey congressman said. “They are not labeled as dangerous to small children, there’s no warning, and they’re not hard to get.”

Amazon, Target, and Walmart all said on Tuesday they will no longer sell water beads marketed to children.

<em>Recalled Buffalo Games LLC Chuckle & Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kits (Buffalo Games LLC)</em>
Recalled Buffalo Games LLC Chuckle & Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kits (Buffalo Games LLC)

“In the interest of safety, Amazon will no longer allow the sale of water beads that are marketed to children, including as toys, art supplies or for sensory play,” a company spokesperson said. “We work hard to ensure the products offered in our store are safe, and we have teams dedicated to developing and updating our policies, evaluating listings, and continuously monitoring our store to prevent unsafe and noncompliant products from being listed.”

“We decided to voluntarily stop selling expanding water bead toy and craft items marketed to young children and have already taken steps to remove them from our stores and online,” a spokesperson for Walmart said in an email.

In September, Consumer Reports spoke to safety experts who warned caregivers of the risks of the gel spheres and four other dangerous products.

“The risks can’t be ignored,” Michael Alfonzo, MD, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine told the outlet. “If you have a child under the age of 3, I wouldn’t have them in my home.”

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