Are Neodymium Magnets Harmful?

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If you have used or handled neodymium magnets, also called NdFeB magnets, you may have already experienced how strong these permanent magnets are. But with its strength often comes the question of safety.

Neodymium magnets are not at all harmful. Despite being the most powerful type of magnet commercially available, they don’t pose any threat or cause toxicity to human health in their natural state. They could only be unsafe and cause danger when you handle them without caution and care. 

Learn more about the potential hazards of mishandled neodymium magnets and how you can prevent accidents in the following lines.

Possible Hazards of Neodymium Magnets

While neodymium magnets are generally safe to use and work with, you still need to be cautious of their potential dangers, as with other types of materials.

The worst hazards involving neodymium magnets sometimes clarify as freak accidents, while common ones are often the results of material mishandling. Still, you must understand how the magnet’s properties can potentially cause injuries to you and your valuables. That way, you’ll know what type of protection to employ.

Choking

The standard sizes for neodymium magnets are between 5mm to 100mm. Therefore, its smallest dimension can be less than a tablet, which opens the possibility of someone accidentally swallowing or even inhaling it.

On the other hand, a slightly bigger NdFeB magnet can cause choking when it is ingested. The same thing could happen if you broke the neodymium magnet and it somehow got into your throat.

But the most at risk for these accidents are young children who think of the magnet as a toy. For this reason, we highly recommend keeping the neodymium magnet away from kids. Put them in a secure, unreachable storage place, and keep an eye on children if you’re working with magnets.

Whichever way you may have ingested the neodymium magnet, do not hesitate to seek immediate medical attention. NdFeB inside your system for a long time can cause injuries and could go as far as repositioning your intestines and causing severe liver damage.  

Pinching

You will likely witness the strength of a neodymium magnet when separating two pieces that are stuck together. However, doing so without proper care can pinch your skin hard, causing pain, swelling, and redness.

In some cases, large neodymium magnets that are forcefully pulled away from each other can jam between your fingers and even break your bones. 

Keep in mind that a neodymium magnet is the strongest permanent rare earth magnet that you can get your hands on. So, the magnetic attraction between two NdFeB magnets is powerful enough for them to jump together. The total magnetic force can cause injuries if you become careless.

So, when separating two magnets, don’t pull them apart. Instead, slide them across one another to prevent a magnetic collision.

Fire Hazard

Neodymium dust and small chips can combust or even cause an explosion when ignited or processed. The finer the dust, the more explosive it could get.

To avoid these fire hazards, we recommend that you don’t change the neodymium magnet, such as refining the coating, breaking it apart, or collecting fine turnings, especially if you don’t have the expertise.

For example, you may look for a small neodymium magnet below standard size. Instead of getting the smallest variation and downsizing its dimension through machining, order customized neodymium magnets that won’t require alterations. This is a safer and more precise choice for your product or project.

Accidental Electrical Shock

As an alloy, neodymium magnets conduct electricity. It also shares the property with its nickel plating. Although its electrical conductivity is significantly lesser than known conductors such as copper, steel, and aluminum, it can still cause an electrical shock when placed into an outlet or power source.

In the same way, don’t expose the magnets near active electrical wires. As a rule of thumb, keep your working station free of potential interactions that could cause electrical shock.

Damage to Media Devices and Electronics

The most notable harm of neodymium magnets is directed not at humans but at electronic devices.

As a NdFeB magnet produces a strong magnetic field, its proximity to actively functioning equipment or tool with an electronic system can alter the moving current induced by the electromagnetic energy. This leads to an overload of its voltage beyond the absolute maximum, resulting in total damage to the electrical device.

If you have older electronics like a television or computer monitor from decades ago, preserve their lifespan by keeping neodymium magnets as far as possible.

On the other hand, media devices may not be destroyed when exposed to NdFeB magnets, but they can still sustain critical impairment.

For example, magnetically stored media common among older computer units can be erased or corrupted by the neodymium magnet. These include floppy disks, video tapes, and cassette tapes. Meanwhile, prolonged exposure to NdFeB magnet also ruins credit cards and magnetic IDs, deeming them unusable.

Contrary to what some believe, neodymium magnets do not damage modern laptops and smartphones. This may have been the case when older models used magnetic storage. But since the popularity of the solid-state drive (SSD) as an alternative, newer models can sustain no harm when exposed to the magnet. 

6 Tips to Handle Neodymium Magnets Safely

Handling neodymium magnets may seem as simple as fiddling with any other magnet. But taking into account its strong magnetic field and even stronger potential to produce potent electromagnetic energy, knowing the following safety tips can keep you away from possible hazards.

Keep Neodymium Magnets  Away From Pacemakers

If you’re wearing a pacemaker, implanted cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), or other magnetic medical devices, ensure that you keep any item containing neodymium magnets away from the device. Ideally, it should be at least six inches or 15 cm far.

According to research, neodymium magnets can interfere with the functions of pacemakers, ICDs, and similar devices. Specifically, they can potentially deactivate them, causing health problems like blood supply reduction, dizziness, fainting, and slow heartbeats.

Do Not Mix Neodymium Magnets  With Magnetic Media and Metals

It would be unwise to put neodymium magnets near devices and materials with magnetic media, like credit cards, magnetic badges, and old electronics. As mentioned above, the interaction between the device’s magnetic component and NdFeB’s strong magnetic field has adverse effects. 

Likewise, keep the magnets away from metals when storing or transporting these items. Doing so can cause inconvenience when you’re sorting the magnets. It also allows for injuries when you’re forced to separate the materials.

Did You Know? When ordering neodymium magnets, consider not just the transport logistics but proper packaging as well. For example, here at JDA[1]  magnet factory, we ensure that the neodymium magnets have sufficient magnetic shielding to keep them damage-free during delivery.

Do Not Expose the Neodymium Magnets to High Temperatures

Despite being a strong rare earth magnet, neodymium magnets can undergo demagnetization (loss of magnetic properties) when exposed to high temperatures.

Beyond 80 degrees Celcius, your neodymium magnet of N gade can be demagnetized completely. What’s worse is that this could be irreversible. Therefore, always store your magnets in cool areas and away from sources of high heat.

Do Not Drill or Machine-Alter the Neodymium Magnets

Drilling the neodymium magnet produces dust and tiny chips, which can be flammable. Plus, you can easily inhale this dust, causing damage to your health.

It’s a good practice to keep the magnets as they are instead of breaking or altering their size and dimension. On top of that, you protect yourself from accidents that could have serious physical injuries.

Wear Safety Goggles and Gloves When Handling Neodymium Magnets

Getting pinched can be inevitable if you’re working with multiple neodymium magnets. On top of that, these magnets can easily break, chip, crack, peel, or shatter when dropped or applied with great force. For these reasons, we recommend wearing safety goggles and gloves consistently.

With your goggles, you can avoid shattered magnets projectile-flying in the air to get into your eyes. Likewise, when your gloves are on, you can protect your hands from any skin damage caused by jumping neodymium magnets. Keep in mind that broken NdFeB can be sharp enough to cut you.    

Avoid Handling the Magnet if You Have a Nickel Allergy

If you have a nickel allergy, you should stir clear of neodymium. NdFeB magnets are nickel-plated. Hence, touching one can trigger your condition.

However, if you must handle a neodymium magnet, wear gloves to avoid direct contact. If you experience an allergic reaction, cease touching the magnet and seek medical attention if needed.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Are broken neodymium magnets dangerous?

Broken neodymium magnets can cause harm if not handled properly, as they could have sharp edges that may cut your skin. Likewise, the metal dust can also cause damage when inhaled and may be flammable in large amounts.

Are neodymium magnets radioactive?

No, neodymium magnets are not radioactive. They may be rare earth magnets, but they contain stable elements. As a result, they don’t release ionizing radiation – which is why they are widely available in both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) markets.

Do neodymium magnets have health benefits?

No research has pointed out that neodymium carries specific health benefits for humans. However, neodymium magnets are found in many medical diagnostic tools like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). There’s also a therapeutic process called magnetic therapy that helps ease the pain, but further studies still need to support its claim.

Conclusion

It is safe to use neodymium magnets as long as you do it with utmost care. If you’re handling plenty of magnets, make sure to wear protective gear. Plus, avoid experiments with the magnet that involve cutting or drilling. Instead, keep them as they are. If you need neodymium magnets in specific dimensions or shapes, you can create an order here[2]  at JDA magnet manufacturer.

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