Parents and Carers Warned Small Magnets Have Power to Kill

2 Jul 2012

Parents and carers of young children and teenagers should beware the dangers of small powerful magnets, which can be fatal if swallowed.

The South Australia Acting Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Anne Gale, said a national safety warning has been issued today to alert consumers of the dangers.

“These powerful magnets, which look like ball bearings, are being marketed as novelty items for adults to create patterns and build shapes,” Ms Gale said.

“Although the magnets carry warnings that they are not a toy, reports indicate that young children and teenagers are accessing these products.

“If two or more magnets are swallowed, they can attract to each other across the intestinal wall and perforate the intestine, causing infection and even death.

“There has been an increased number of serious injuries to children aged between four and eleven years old after ingesting a number of small powerful magnets. Tragically, a Queensland toddler died last year as a result.

“Teenagers have also been injured accidentally swallowing or inhaling the magnets after using them to imitate a tongue, nose or lip piercing.”

Current mandatory safety standards require children’s toys that contain magnets, aimed at children aged under 14 years old, to carry a warning advising that the product contains small powerful magnets and the associated risks.

Consumers should be aware that while these novelty magnets carry warnings, they are not toys, and must be kept securely out of reach of young children.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is currently liaising with suppliers of the magnets to highlight concerns about the increase in reported injuries and are working together on how to address the issue.

“If you suspect anyone has swallowed or inhaled these magnets seek urgent medical attention,” Ms Gale said.

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Contact details

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