It's official: The U.S. government says hoverboards are dangerous

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The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has declared hoverboards unsafe, unless they conform to new safety regulations.

The news comes from a letter the CPSC sent to "Manufacturers, Importers, and Retailers of Self-Balancing Scooters" on Thursday, which was first reported by Mashable. In the letter, Acting CPSC Director Robert Howell says that hoverboards that must meet a new, voluntary safety standard created by private product safety certification firm Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Howell's letter says that self-balancing scooters (a category that includes single-wheel models) that don't meet the standard "pose an unreasonable risk of fire to consumers."


Hoverboards have been under scrutiny since it became apparent that some models explode into flames, potentially destroying homes and nearly injuring riders. Howell's letter says that "From December 1, 2015, through February 17, 2016, CPSC received reports, from consumers in 24 states, of 52 self-balancing scooter fires resulting in over $2 million in property damage, including the destruction of two homes and an automobile."


The CPSC has been investigating hoverboard fires for at least a month, including fires caused by the popular Swagway brand. Hoverboards were briefly removed from Amazon in December over safety concerns.


Despite the risks of hoverboards exploding, as well the fact that they're illegal in New York City and many other towns in the U.S., and are banned on all airlines and on many college campuses, large retailers like Walmart and Toys R Us have said they plan to begin selling them in April.

CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye told Mashable that ""This is us drawing a line in the sand and a notice for the entire hoverboard community," adding that he hopes this'll force retailers to take a closer look at which, if any, scooters in their inventory meet new safety standards.


So there you have it, hoverboard community: you're on notice. In the meantime, hopefully the CPSC will decide whether to keep calling them hoverboards, or use a better name.

Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at