Interim ban on novelty products with small magnets
23 August 2012
NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts has announced New South Wales, together with other state and territory regulators, will today place an interim ban on a range of novelty products that contain small magnets.
This follows a call by Minister Roberts on 9 August for the Commonwealth to ban the products permanently. This is a Commonwealth power. The NSW Government has the power to impose an interim ban on unsafe products. This is the first time since the introduction of the Australian Consumer Law that an interim ban has been imposed by NSW.
Commonwealth Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury issued a public warning on 3 July. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission said on 7 August that it had negotiated the removal of a range of products and was seeking an order for remaining suppliers to stop selling the products.
"While the Commonwealth is moving to a permanent ban, NSW is taking action now on this urgent issue, Minister Roberts said. I’m again urging the Federal Government to accelerate its move to permanently ban this product."
Mr Roberts said all Australian consumer protection jurisdictions were working to address safety concerns about the products.
“The interim ban will protect NSW families, especially young children,” he said. “NSW retailers are now banned from selling these small magnets for 60 days.”
The products contain small, high-powered, rare-earth magnets, with diameters of approximately 4mm to 5mm and are marketed for adults to create patterns and build shapes.
The products are sold by a range of suppliers and are marketed under various names including ‘BuckyBalls’, ‘Neocubes’ and ‘Neodymium sphere magnets’.
If a child swallows more than one of these high-powered magnets, they can attract to each other across the intestinal wall and perforate the intestine, requiring emergency surgery.
Mr Roberts said magnets from novelty products and executive toys had been swallowed by young children, while some older children and teenagers had swallowed magnets after using them as imitation tongue or lip piercings.
NSW Fair Trading has this month received advice of reports of a 12 year old Sydney child and a 12 year old Melbourne child who had swallowed magnets.
Minister Roberts said parents and carers should ensure toys or novelty products containing small high-powered magnets were kept out of reach of young children and warn older children and teenagers about the risks.
“If you believe a child or teenager has swallowed magnets, seek medical assistance urgently to reduce the likelihood of serious injury,” he said.
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