Parents are being warned about the dangers to children of small, high-powered magnets intended for adults as desk novelties, said Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury.
The products, marketed under various names including 'BuckyBalls', 'Neocubes' and 'Neodymium sphere magnets', contain numerous magnets as small as 5mm in diameter. They are marketed as novelty items for adults to create patterns and build shapes.
"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, which could require emergency surgery or even be fatal," said Mr Bradbury.
Reports indicate that these magnets have been swallowed by young children. Some older children and teenagers have also swallowed the magnets after using them as imitation tongue or lip piercings.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is working jointly with the Queensland Office of Fair Trading to liaise with all known suppliers of these magnets highlighting concern at the increase in reported serious injuries and seeking engagement on how to address the problem.
"Parents and carers should always make sure that toys or adult novelties containing small, high-powered magnets are securely kept away from young children.
"Older children are advised not to put small high-powered magnets in or near their mouth, nose or anywhere they could be accidentally ingested.
"If you suspect a child has swallowed magnets, seek urgent medical assistance to reduce the likelihood and extent of serious injury."