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1A.001 Fatal attraction; small powerful magnets are making a resurgence
  1. Ruth Barker
  1. Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit, Brisbane, Australia


Context Small powerful magnets (SPMs) are used in many applications, from common household objects to industrial applications. Concerns over the frequency and severity of injuries related to SPMs prompted several product safety regulators around the world to ban the use of SMPs in certain products.

Process In late 2012, the ACCC banned the sale of SPMs supplied in multiples of two or more where the flux was greater than 50. This followed a similar ban in the United States. Though the Australian ban is still in place, the US ban was overturned in 2016.

Analysis The Australian ban was informed by collation of 22 cases of paediatric injury presenting to surgical services; 12 cases collected in 2012 alone. Following the implementation of the ban, there was a dramatic drop in the number of magnet related presentations. However, there has been a recent resurgence of products and injuries both in Australia and the US.

Outcomes The bans on sale of SMPs saw a dramatic reduction in cases. However, products currently on the market in Australia, though they should be under the 50 flux cut off, seem to still be implicated in causing injury. With fluid international consumer markets, it is also likely that Australian children are being exposed to higher flux products from overseas as well.

Learning Outcomes It is not clear whether current injuries are due to allowed Australian products or banned products sold in Australia or international products purchased online. We need reactivation of case reporting, that includes product details, to inform further regulatory moves.

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