Pen pegged as health risk

Graphic by Lena Yang
Graphic by Lena Yang

Waterloo inventor, Andrew Gardner, may have to reconsider his business plan.

His latest invention, the Polar Pen, was a functional pen made up of a set of high-powered magnets that can be broken down and reassembled in seconds.

With the addition of a rubber tip, the pen also functioned as stylus. The pen has already raised upwards of $800,000 from backers across the world.

Health Canada, however, revealed an intention to stop production and distribution of Gardner’s magnetic pen, claiming it to be a health hazard.

Health Canada has voiced concerns over ‘Buckyballs,” which are tiny magnets banned in Canada, which are similar to what is used in the Polar Pen.

“The magnets are unsafe,” Health Canada issued in a statement when The Cord contacted them. “They are a danger to human health and safety since they contain small powerful magnets which can be easily swallowed by an infant.”

Voicing his displeasure Gardner felt that Health Canada “had sort of been going overboard because of the Buckyball thing.”

“It’s like swallowing a horse pill, I think if anyone were to swallow one they wouldn’t be swallowing a second” countered Gardner.

“We’ve been in talks with [Health Canada], I actually sent them my first official response yesterday and I’m just waiting to hear back from them.”

Health Canada went on to state its concern that the magnets could attract one another while travelling through the digestive system. They could then pinch together and create a blockage and slowly tear through the intestinal wall causing perforations.

Gardner explained that he actually  made the first magnet prototype for the Polar Pen from Lee Valley Tools in Waterloo.

“So they’re selling these same types of magnets, either the same size or smaller in Canada” he added.

Gardner first came up with idea when he was looking for a new product and went on Kickstarter Canada, an online crowd-funding platform where users can fund creative projects.

“I noticed that pens were something that were doing really well,” he explained. “It’s more of a hobby than anything. I was working at another company and I had tried another project on a crowd funding site called Indygogo.”

Given the large investments Gardner obtained through crowd funding, there is concern over what will happen to the investments should production cease.

“We would refund to Canadians,” he explained.

“Right now the only people that will be affected by the Health Canada decision will be Canadians. If the ruling does not go in our favour and we are not allowed to sell in Canada, I’ll still look to sell to the backers from all over the world.”

“It’s just unfortunate that Canadians, considering that this is a Canadian product, will not be allowed to get it.”

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