The WA Government has banned novelty magnet desktop toy because after a number of children interstate were injured by ingesting them.
The small, high-powered magnets marketed as “rare earth” items are composed of hundreds of tiny balls which can be formed into different shapes.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said the balls pose a serious threat to children.
“If more than one of the balls are swallowed, they can attract to each other across the intestinal wall and perforate the intestine, which can be fatal. Emergency surgery is generally required in these circumstances,” she said in a statement released today.
An 18-month old child died last year after swallowing 12 of the small magnets in Queensland. In Sydney, a three-year-old boy underwent surgery for a perforated oesophagus after swallowing four balls, while in June another Sydney seven-year-old also underwent surgery after swallowing the balls.
There were two other cases of serious injuries from the toys in Melbourne and Sydney this year, according to the WA Department of Consumer Protection.
“These novelty magnets have been on sale in WA for some time and we would urge any parent or guardian to ensure that toys or novelty items containing magnets are kept out of reach of young children.
“If a child has swallowed a magnet, urgent medical assistance should be sought,” the Commissioner said.
“The Minister has today approved an immediate interim ban on these products pending a permanent ban being put in place that will apply nationally.
“While a ban on magnets in children’s toys has been in place for some time, this ban will relate to these items used by adults but could potentially be swallowed by children.”
The company manufacturing the balls has hit back at moves to ban them in the US, with an online campaign highlighting the safety warning on their products, dubbed “Save Our Balls”.
Manufacturers of “Buckyballs” and “Buckycubes” host a statement on their US-based website saying: “You may have heard there is a problem with our products ... THIS IS NOT TRUE. Thanks for your support as we campaign to Save Our Balls!”