Federal action on water bead safety expected in 2024 following safety concerns for children

Posted at 11:42 AM, Nov 17, 2023

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) plans to address safety concerns of water beads as noted in its 2024 operating plan.

A CPSC spokesperson said, "Water beads present a hazard to babies and small children.  We have received information about one death and several injuries related to the ingestion of water beads.  These injuries can be severe and life-altering.

The Commission has been working with voluntary standards groups to strengthen the requirements around expandable toys.  At the same time, the Commission has voted to begin to develop a new standard, with a proposed rule this fiscal year.  In the meantime, CPSC staff continues to investigate these products, including taking a close look at potentially harmful levels of certain chemicals."

Federal lawmakers also announced legislation this week aimed at taking the popular toys marketed for children off the market.

On Monday, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. of New Jersey held a press conference announcing The Ban Water Beads Act.

"Water beads come in all sorts of bright rainbow colors, tend to look like candy, and are often labeled as non-toxic," Congressman Pallone said in the announcement posted on his website.

"They look and sound fun, but the reality is these colorful products can become deadly or cause serious injuries when swallowed by children. That's why I'm introducing legislation to ban water beads marketed for kids nationwide. I'm grateful to everyone who joined me today to raise awareness about the danger these products pose—especially as holiday shopping begins—and I look forward to continuing to work together to advance this legislation to protect our nation's little ones."

The CPSC estimates since 2017, there have been 4,500 visits to hospital emergency rooms because of these toys. The federal agency has posted safety warnings about the beads on its website, sharing you should "remove them from any environment where small children (3 years old or younger) may live or visit."

In September, The Consumer Product Safety Commission along with Buffalo Games LLC announced a major recall of about 52,000 Chuckle & Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity kits due to ingestion, choking and obstruction hazards.

The CPSC says in July, Buffalo Games LLC received a report of a 10-month-old child who died after swallowing the water beads from its kit. The CPSC reports in November of last year, Buffalo Games received a report of a 9-month-old child who was seriously injured after ingesting them.

"This is an emerging, what we call an emerging hazard. They've been around, but suddenly the number of injuries and the amount of data that we now have on how dangerous they can be is. It's kind of exploding and so it's now is the time to take action on that rather than waiting longer and we'd see more injuries and possibly more deaths," said Nancy Cowles with the child safety advocacy group Kids in Danger.

Several years ago, Ashley Haugen's family bought a different brand of water beads online for their oldest daughter's 6th birthday. Her then 10-month-old daughter Kipley became sick with flu-like symptoms and she ended up needing emergency surgery.

"I remember him coming out of the OR and showing my husband and I the picture of the material that he had pulled from Kipley's small intestine," Haugen said.

Haugen says it was remnants of a water bead.

"We do not know how many water beads Kipley swallowed. What we do know is that the material was inside of Kipley for approximately 70 days."

"We researched the product online. We used adult supervision with my oldest and the baby wasn't allowed to play with the beads. We essentially did everything right. And. My youngest daughter ended up in the hospital."

Ashley and her family created a non-profit called "That Water Bead Lady" to tell parents about the toy's potential dangers.

Consumer Reports has recently launched a petition pressing the CPSC product to get these toys off the market.

"We're sending out an alert to everybody to let them know that if they have these in their homes and they have young kids. you need to remove them," said William Wallace, Associate Director of Safety Policy with the consumer agency.

Anyone can report injuries from products and research toys before you buy them by going to