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How dangerous are strong neodymium magnets?

Release time:2017-03-08 11:51     Author:Nature

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Keywords: strong neodymium magnets

All of us use the magnets in a daily life, but do we really pay an attention on that? When you switch
a cell phone to vibrate mode, the fast movement and corresponding sound that you hear in a
consequence is caused by a miniature Nd magnet inside the phone. If you are a teenager or huge fan
of high-tech or addicted from music, I am almost sure that you have the most modern headphones ever,
but did you know that this great sound quality as well as a full spectrum of bass is improved by Nd magnets?
Yes, this is one of their applications as well. Regarding very popular since a while term ECO, users of hybrid
and electric vehicles should know that their cars often use high-strength Nd magnets to power the vehicles’ DC
motor. Moreover, wind turbine generators depend on NdFeB magnets in order to produce electricity. Besides
these we can find Nd magnets in office supplies, jewelry, toys, machines, tool, etc.. They are simply around us!
But do we really know how to use them properly? Do we really know what are they capable of? Do we take into
account that they may be dangerous?
 
Neodymium magnets are actually made from an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron, what allows them to
store huge amount of magnetic energy as well as to be highly resistant to demagnetization (more technical
specification can be found at https://www.kjmagnetics.com/neomaginfo.asp). Thus, the NdFeB permanent
magnets are recognized as the strongest in the entire world! Even a thumb-sized magnet is difficult to remove
from a refrigerator by hand. And what happens when two magnets meet each other? The attraction between
them is so strong that when placed close enough together, they collide and shatter, bringing serious damages
when something will appear on their way…
 
The best thing to visualize how dangerous the Nd magnets are would be to insert here some photographic
examples that sometimes look really frightfully… but because some of you may have weak nerves I will
avoid to yank them here and instead I am sending you to check some links added below. In general, in the
Internet you can find plenty examples of different human injuries, such as crushed fingers, broken bones
or holes in the intestines, as well as things damage: erase of the magnetic recording media, information from
the credit card magnetic strips or permanently distorted color images of the TV screens. Moreover, Nd magnets
work well at low temperatures, but when heated up, their magnetic field decreases and they become more
fragile. If they become hot they may catch on fire!
 
The most common problem, regarding Nd magnets, always involves children. Though intended for adult use,
it is extremely difficult to keep them out of the reach of little folks. Shiny, small and of attractive shapes always
turn attention. According to the North America Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
(www.naspghan.org), over 200 documented cases of children swallowing these magnets. Most of them required
emergency procedures for removal, but some of them required even a major surgery!
 
Unfortunately, current safety standards, labeling requirements and voluntary warnings are not sufficient to
protect children as well as adults from the harm associated with “playing” these dangerous high-powered magnets.
Tables, points and red signs on the safety data sheets are not enough to attract attention of potential user to read
it all. Basically, our interest in safety of use the Nd magnets is finished after three lines of the text or we do not
read it at all! Yes, it is sad, but it is true… Does it mean then that showing more, let’s say, shocking and
straightforward warnings, such as bloody photos, movies and similar will be much more beneficial in our care when
working with Nd magnets? I believe that yes, and you?


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