NJ official pushes for water bead toy ban in wake of child injuries, death

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Monday, November 13, 2023
NJ official pushes for water bead toy ban
Sonia Rincon has the story on a new push for a national ban on water bead toys.

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- There is a new push by a New Jersey congressman for a national ban on water beads marketed for kids.

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone says that water beads are colorful, water-absorbing balls that are sold as children's toys and often look like candy.

"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. "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 Ban Water Beads Act would direct the CPSC to enforce a ban on all water beads marketed for use by kids.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there were 7,800 emergency room visits between 2016 and 2022 as a result of children ingesting water beads.

"I have heard heartbreaking stories from parents whose children ingested water beads and suffered horrendous consequences, including grave internal injuries, lifelong health impacts, and even death," said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. "All small children who have access to water beads are at risk. I thank Congressman Pallone for his leadership on this issue and look forward to working with him and with parent advocates to protect children."

They say they're aware of at least one death. Esther Bethard of Wisconsin was just 10 months old when she died on July 7.

"Our sweet Esther Jo is gone all because of a toy; a toy she was never allowed to play with," said Taylor Bethard, Esther's mother. "Water beads are not worth the risk. If you are a parent, caregiver, teacher or therapist, I urge you to remove these from your spaces immediately. Our family is thankful that the Ban Water Beads Act will help ensure that no other family endures the same tragedy we have."

If a water bead is ingested, it can expand in the child's body posing major risks including intestinal obstruction.

Sister station WPVI warned consumers about water beads in December after speaking to the mom of 1-year-old Kennedy Mitchell.

Kennedy ended up in the hospital after swallowing a bead from the same Chuckle & Roar kit sold at Target that allegedly killed Bethard. The bead blocked Kennedy's intestine.

"In November 2022, water beads caused serious injury to my daughter, Kennedy Mitchell," said Folichia Mitchell. "These beads, sold in packs of thousands, bring a hidden risk into homes, leaving only luck to avert disaster. We must join forces to shield our children from such dangers, as they deserve more than just luck for protection. I stand in support of the Ban Water Beads Act, advocating for the right of every child to have safe toys in their home."

The Chuckle and Roar Ultimate Water Beads Activity kit was recalled after the Bethard's reported Esther's death to the CPSC.

Many other companies and toys feature water beads.

The Ban Water Beads Act will be introduced to the Senate this week.

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