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The US government is cracking down on unsafe hoverboards

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Hoverboards that lack independent safety certification — basically all that have been sold in the US so far — pose an "imminent hazard" and are now subject to recall or seizure by the US government, according to a letter from the Consumer Products Safety Commission sent to manufacturers, importers, and dealers of hoverboards Thursday. The agency says anyone caught selling uncertified hoverboards will face civil and criminal penalties. The letter was first reported by Mashable.

"Self-balancing scooters that do not meet these voluntary safety standards pose an unreasonable risk of fire to consumers," the agency writes. "Consumers risk serious injury or death if their self-balancing scooters ignite and burn."

"An unreasonable risk of fire."

CPSC says it has received 52 reports of fires resulting from malfunctioning hoverboards from 24 states that have caused over $2 million in property damage, as well as the complete destruction of one home and an automobile. To prevent future hoverboard-related carnage, the agency is calling for a removal of all hoverboards that do not meet safety standards, and for all importers, manufacturers, and sellers to acquire independent safety certification.

"We believe that many of the reported incidents, and the related unreasonable risk of injuries and deaths associated with fires in these products, would be prevented if all such products were manufactured in compliance with the referenced voluntary safety standards," CPSC says. The agency also shared a video of its testing process.

Essentially hoverboard dealers are being ordered to obtain two levels of safety certification: one for the lithium ion batteries as outlined by the United Nations and the US Department of Transportation, and the other for the entire hoverboard by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), a private company known for certifying the safety of all sorts of everyday products. UL announced earlier this month that it had begun accepting submissions from hoverboard manufacturers and distributors.

To date, consumers have had to take hoverboard companies at their word that their products were safe. For example, Swagway touted its use of UL-certified components in order to keep being sold on Amazon, but would have to resubmit its boards for full certification with this new process in place. And as hoverboards grew in popularity, the CPSC released several statements emphasizing its concern about the reports of fires, but has held off on cracking down on manufacturers, most of whom reside in China, and sellers while it tests several of the more prominent brands. But now the agency is bringing its full regulatory weight down on this new industry.

Self-balancing Scooter Letter EXC 02182016 Final