The water beads were not designed for use as children’s toys. (Supplied: Consumer Protection)
Water-absorbing balls that have been sold as toys in Western Australia are being recalled over concerns they pose a serious danger to children.
Consumer Protection said the supplier, Alpak Trade, which trades as Fremantle Water Beads, agreed to withdraw the water-expandable polymer balls, or water beads, from the marketplace, but thousands had already been sold in WA.
The voluntary recall follows inquiries by Consumer Protection staff after the balls were found to be on sale to children at this year’s Perth Royal Show.
They have also been sold at the Fremantle Markets and online since March 2015.
The balls were originally designed for the florist industry to hold flowers in place and to add colour to displays, and were not intended as children’s toys.
Consumer Protection said if the balls were swallowed, they could expand and block a child’s intestines or bowel, and could also be a choking hazard.
It said a two-year-old boy was treated at Geraldton Regional Hospital in 2014 after ingesting up to 12 of the balls.
In some overseas cases, children have required surgery to have the beads — which do not show up on X-rays — removed.
A child in Pakistan reportedly died after ingesting the beads.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said it was vital the balls were not sold to children as toys.