U.S. recalls 4 million Aqua Dots toys due to chemical

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some 4 million Chinese-made Aqua Dots toys were recalled in the United States because they may contain a chemical which, if swallowed, can lead to a coma or seizures, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Wednesday.

The Aqua Dots toy, which made Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s list of top 12 Christmas toys, have been sold at major U.S. retail stores since April.

“The problem is a chemical on the beads,” CPSC spokeswoman Julie Vallese said. “If ingested, it turns into a toxic substance. Children who swallow the beads can become unconscious, have respiratory depression, or seizures.”

The U.S. safety agency received two reports of children who swallowed Aqua Dots and became unconscious, the spokeswoman said. The children have since recovered.

The craft toy comes with small colorful beads or dots that are coated with a non-toxic glue into shapes, and sprayed with water to fix them together.

Consumers should take the toy away from their child and look for any stray beads that may have fallen from the craft kit, the CPSC said.

“Parents should take this very seriously. The consequences to children who ingest these beads is very serious,” Vallese said.

The toy is distributed by Spin Master, a Toronto company.

Spin Master said in a statement that it recalled Aqua Dots from Canadian retailers as well.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we have stopped shipping this item and are working with the (U.S.) Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada,” the company said.

Australia announced a nationwide ban on about 1 million of the toys earlier on Wednesday after investigations showed they contained a chemical that metabolizes when swallowed into a date-rape drug.

Three Australian children became severely ill after they swallowed beads from the toy, sold there as “Bindeez.” The toy was named Australia’s 2007 Toy of the Year.

Australian officials said instead of using the safe chemical 1,5-pentanediol, the potentially dangerous chemical 1,4-butanediol was introduced in the manufacturing process. When ingested, 1,4-butanediol can metabolize into what is known as the date rape