GHB, Asbestos, and Fire: The Top 5 Recalls of our Time.

by Gary Chapman

gchapman@lc.edu

 

One thing that a lot of people hear about is recalls; car owners may have received a letter in the mail for free service, and you can go to Wally-world and find a whole slew of recalls for toys, baby seats and other things that have defects. Let’s look at some of the most infamous recalls of all time.

 

  1. Bindeez/Aqua Dots/Pixos

 

Toys are designed to be safe. It isn’t the days of lawn darts going through Bobby’s eye socket anymore, but while that was an issue of design, this was one where it was negligence on the manufacturing side.

Bindeez was a toy where you get small plastic dots and you use them to draw designs, with them fusing into one piece you can put on the fridge. The problem was that when ingested, the dust that covered it metabolized into gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, or GHB. GHB is mostly known as “the date rape drug”. 

The cause of this was a design change. The creator intended for the non-toxic 1,5-pentanediol, which makes the plastic flexible and soft, to be used; but, because that was expensive, the factory in China used the toxic 1,4-butanediol, which metabolizes into GHB when ingested. It was noticed when kids started having seizures and became comatose after ingesting the small beads.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that “[They] have received two reports over the past several days of children swallowing Aqua Dots. A 20-month-old child swallowed several dozen beads. He became dizzy and vomited several times before slipping into a comatose state for a period of time, was hospitalized and has since fully recovered. A second child also vomited and slipped into a comatose state and was hospitalized for five days.”

The product was recalled and Spin Master gave free replacement beads. When the product was relaunched as Beados and Pixos and was covered in Bitrex, which is a deterrent to stop people from eating it.

 

4: Tylenol 

 

Tylenol is the name in headache medicine. So, 12 year old Mary Kellerman didn’t expect anything to be wrong with her Tylenol. In reality, the pill was tampered with and had Potassium Cyanide (KCN) in it, which became hydrogen cyanide. From Sept. to Oct. 1982, seven people died from ingesting cyanide-laced Tylenol pills.

Johnson and Johnson, the manufacturer, responded by stopping the production of Tylenol and recalling all bottles nationwide, up to an estimated 31 million bottles of Tylenol were pulled from store shelves.

Despite almost 40 years passing, no person has been convicted of the poisoning. Multiple copy- cat cases happened in the ‘80s and even the Unabomber was asked if he was involved. He said he has never owned the chemical involved.

It did make tamper proof packaging and moving from capsules to tablets more common, so that’s good.

 

  1. Samsung Galaxy Note 7

 

The 6th in the Galaxy note line of phablets, the phone was intended to be the flagship for Samsung. Shame that the phone’s lithium-ion battery pins had a tendency to bend, which causes short circuits. The battery would overheat and then would go “bang”. After a recall from Samsung, replacement phones were sent out. Those phones started having issues, with them also reportedly combusting. 

A man had his phone, which was a replacement, allegedly start smoking and popping on a plane at Louisville Airport. The Verge reported that, “[His friend] went back onto the plane to retrieve some personal belongings and said that the phone had burned through the carpet and scorched the subfloor of the plane.”

A second recall was initiated and Samsung discontinued production. A year later, a fixed version called the Note FE (Fan Edition) was released. Samsung, unlike Johnson and Johnson, did not handle the recall well. They were slow and unclear about whether it was safe or not. 

 

  1. CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit 

 

For some reason, the popular crime show CSI decided to make toys for kids. One of them being the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit. It came with a notebook, a magnifying glass, a Black light and some fingerprint powder. The fingerprint powder was made of two types of asbestos, which if inhaled can lead to Mesothelioma and other injuries to your lungs, especially to young Jimmy.

The manufacturer pulled it from shelves four days before Christmas, despite it being the hot ticket item of 2007.

 

  1. The Takata Airbags

 

Airbags are one of the most reliable life-saving devices in a car, preventing you from going headfirst at 50 mph into your steering wheel. But one thing you don’t want it doing is exploding when there wasn’t an accident. That is the problem that the Takata airbags were and are still being recalled for.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Long-term exposure to high heat and humidity can cause these air bags to explode when deployed. Such explosions have caused injuries and deaths.” According to Takata and NHTSA, up to 11 million defective inflators are on the roads. 

If you want to see if your 2002-2015 car is due for an airbag replacement, go to safeairbags.com and, if it says you need one, it’s free to repair.

Recalls are a part of life. Hopefully that new toy or car doesn’t have arsenic or thallium in it.

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