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Consumer Reports meeting with retailers over water bead safety

Posted at 11:21 AM, Feb 26, 2024

In recent months, some popular retailers like Target, Walmart, and Amazon told Consumer Reports they will no longer be selling water beads marketed to children.

The advocacy organization has been investigating the dangers of water beadsfor months. It tested several brands and documented how large the beads can grow. The investigation found some grew to the size of a golf ball, posing choking and ingestion hazards.

"We're going to over a dozen companies to talk to them, to have a conversation about what more they can do to make sure that these dangerous products aren't out there where people can get harmed," said William Wallace, Associate Director of Safety Policy at Consumer Reports.

Despite the progress, if you do a quick internet search you can still find water beads for sale on different websites.

Wallace explains some retailers changed their marketing tactics. In some cases, the companies claim their water beads aren't toys but are used for home décor as vase fillers for example.

"For some companies, it's easier than others, right? For some companies, they have very tight control over their supply chains and they have very tight control over what gets posted on their websites. For others, they have a lot less control and so that makes it much more difficult," explained Wallace.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports, that from 2016-2022, there were an estimated 7,800 emergency room (ER) visits associated with water beads and the federal agency says it is aware of at least one death connected to a product.

Water beads also have lawmakers' attention. In November, they introduced the Ban Water Beads Act.

Consumer Reports is asking retailers to support the legislation so that it can make its way through Congress and become law.