Massive Recall Issued After Children’s Lives Put in Danger

( – Buffalo Games, the company that manufactures Chuckle & Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity Kits, issued a massive recall after the product led to the death of a 10-month-old who had ingested the beads. Other previous injuries have also been reported. One parent has been fighting to get the item out of households with small children and pets for five years after water beads caused her daughter serious injury and poisoning in 2017.

Water Beads, also called gel beads, jelly beads, crystal soil, and hydro orbs, are spheres made of a special polymer that absorbs water and grows up to 1,500 times its original size. Companies often market the items as sensory toys for children with developmental issues. When dry, the pieces can be as small as a pinhead, making them easy to overlook, but when filled with water, they can expand large enough to block off the intestinal tract. Children may see the colorful pieces as candy, or they might put them in their noses or ears. There is also a risk of the beads being inhaled, causing possible lung obstruction.

The product can be difficult to see in imaging tests, making it easy to miss on X-rays and other diagnostic tests. Removal can require surgery, but the beads don’t always stay intact during the procedure, and their destruction can introduce even more problems.

Companies that sell Water Beads list their polymer as “non-toxic,” but warns that the product contains a chemical called acrylamide, which may be dangerous. The compound, which naturally occurs in small amounts in high-carbohydrate foods cooked at high temperatures, is also an industrial product that manufacturers use when making plastics, cosmetics, water treatment products, and grouts. It’s present in cigarette smoke as well.

The CDC warns that acrylamide affects the nervous system, and high enough exposure can cause weakness, numbness, and unsteadiness. The chemical has also been proven dangerous to animals causing numerous forms of cancer and male sterility, but studies haven’t determined whether these effects also occur in humans.

Buffalo Games is offering full refunds on the recalled product. Concerned parents can contact the company directly for instructions or take the kits back to Target, the only store that distributed them. Chuckle & Roar Water Beads are a product of China.

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