Ban targets sale of small magnets

THE Federal Government is seeking to ban the sale of small magnets over fears they can kill or seriously injure children when swallowed.

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury on Wednesday took the first step to ban the magnets, which are marketed as novelty items for adults to create patterns and build shapes.

Mr Bradbury said at least one death and numerous injuries had been reported in Australia from ingesting the magnets.

"If any person ingests more than one of these high powered magnets, the magnets can be attracted to each other across the walls of the intestine or other digestive tissue creating the risk of perforation and other serious health conditions ... and in some cases death," Mr Bradbury wrote in outlining the reasons for the proposed ban.

Mr Bradbury said choking and blood poisoning were the other potential consequences of swallowing the magnets, which are about 5mm in size.

The products, marketed under various names including BuckyBalls, Neocubes and Neodymium sphere magnets, contain numerous small, high-powered magnets.

In July the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the United States announced it was seeking to ban the magnets.

In response Bucky Balls launched a "Save our balls" campaign.

The company has sold 2.5 million sets of magnets in the past three years. A video on its website says the company deliberately avoids marketing the product to children, and includes up to five warnings on the packing of the magnets.

"Help us save our balls (and) your rights," the video says.

Suppliers of the products are invited to contact the ACCC regarding the proposed ban within the next 15 days.

Topics:  accc federal government

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