26 September 2023

Batteries continue to threat young lives

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Consumer Protection has reiterated its concern that button batteries and small high-powered magnets could cause internal injuries if accidentally swallowed by a child.

Consumer Protection said the dangers were highlighted in recent news reports of two children who were hospitalised after ingesting these items.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Trish Blake said small, high-powered magnets, which were promoted as shape-shifting toys, were so dangerous they had been banned for sale in Australia for more than a decade.

“If two or more of the magnets are swallowed, they can attract and stick to each other across internal tissue, potentially causing the tissue to die or perforate, before leading to further complications like infection, sepsis and even death,” Ms Blake said.

“Likewise, button batteries, which are used to power many devices, can be deadly if they burn through the oesophagus or stomach due to a chemical reaction that is triggered when they come into contact with saliva.”

She said new rules that became mandatory last year required warnings to be displayed on all products containing them, including advice to seek medical assistance if swallowed.

“Any toys or other products that are powered by button batteries must have a secure battery cover,” Ms Blake said.

“We recently warned retailers they must ensure they are complying with the new rules or face penalties, after our product safety inspections in Albany uncovered 15 items for sale that were wrongly labelled and failed to display the correct warnings.”

She said the Agency’s officers would continue checking retailers to ensure the laws were obeyed.

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