New safety concerns over a range of Apple products

New safety concerns have been announced over a range of popular Apple products and accessories. Despite the hype over the recent launch of Apple’s new tracking devices known as AirTags, many retailers were quick to remove the products from shelves over potential injury concerns and choking hazards for small children.

In addition to safety concerns over AirTags, Apple itself has released a safety notice in regards to a range of Apple’s electronic products that contain magnets and the potential for magnetic interference with implanted medical devices.

ACCC warns parents over dangers of button batteries in Apple’s AirTags

Earlier in 2021, Apple announced a range of new products, including AirTags. These tiny tracking devices are intended to be placed in or on an important item, such as your bag or keys. Thanks to the AirTag’s tracking capabilities, which work with Apple’s ‘Find My iPhone’ app, you’re able to locate your item if lost.

However, not long after the release of AirTags, products in Australia were quickly pulled from retail shelves over concerns that the tracking devices may be an injury hazard for children due to the tiny button battery used in the device. Now the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned parents about the potential dangers of Apple’s AirTags.

Front and back of Apple AirTags not in keyring holder
Apple AirTags not in keyring holder. Source: Apple

While the ACCC has noted that Apple has designed AirTags to meet international child safety standards by introducing a two-step push and turn mechanism designed to prevent children from removing the battery, the consumer watchdog is concerned this is not enough.

“We were also concerned that the outer product packaging does not have any warning about the presence and dangers of button batteries, and we note that Apple has now added a warning label to the AirTag’s packaging. However, this alone does not address our fundamental concerns about children being able to access the button batteries in these devices,” said ACCC Deputy Chair, Delia Rickard.

The concern lies with instances where the AirTag’s battery compartment could be accessed by children and the battery removed with ease. The ACCC notes that the compartment containing the AirTag battery has a lid which does not always fully secure when closing, and a sound may play when the lid is being closed — which suggests the lid is secure — when it actually may not be properly closed. The ACCC is also currently assessing whether there are other Bluetooth tracking devices where there could be a similar issue.

Ms Rickard said, “As a safety precaution, we urge parents to keep AirTags away from their children. We know that small children can be fascinated by keys and love playing with them, so there is a risk that they could access this product, which is designed to be attached to a key ring, among other things.”

Apple AirTag in keyring attached to black bag
AirTag in keyring holder, attached to bag. Source: Apple

In December 2020, mandatory safety and information standards were introduced and apply to all button batteries and consumer goods which contain button batteries sold in Australia, with these mandatory standards coming into force from June 22, 2022. From the June 2022 date, fines and penalties may apply for retailers or manufacturers which supply button batteries or products containing them if the products do not comply with these mandatory standards.

The ACCC states that in Australia, three children have died and 44 have been severely injured as a result of incidents involving button batteries in other products. These batteries are especially dangerous for children under the age of five, as if the battery is swallowed, it can get stuck in the child’s throat. A chemical reaction can then occur which burns through tissue, and this can result in death or serious injury in a short amount of time. Children inserting button batteries into parts of the body, including ears and noses, can also cause injuries.

Apple issues warning for a range of products which may interfere with medical devices

In other news, Apple has recently issued a warning over a range of products that may emit electromagnetic fields which can interfere with medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators.

Certain Apple consumer electronic devices contain magnets or components and radios may emit these electromagnetic fields. Medical devices such as pacemakers and implanted defibrillators might contain sensors which react to magnets and radios when in close contact. It’s for that reason that Apple has released this warning about a range of products, and urges customers with these products who have an implanted medical device, such as a pacemaker, to keep these products a safe distance away from the medical device.

The recommended distance is more than 15cm away, or more than 30cm away if using wireless charging. Customers are also urged to contact their medical practitioner and the device manufacturer’s guidelines for further information.

Front and back of iPhone 12 Pro in silver
iPhone 12 Pro. Source: Apple

The products Apple is warning against, which contain magnets are:

  • iPhone 12 phones — iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • MagSafe accessories
  • iPad
  • iPad mini
  • iPad Air
  • iPad Pro
  • iPad Smart Covers and Smart Folios
  • iPad Smart Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio
  • Magic Keyboard for iPad
  • AirPods and Charging Case
  • AirPods and Wireless Charging Case
  • AirPods Pro and Wireless Charging Case
  • AirPods Max and Smart Case
  • Apple Watch
  • Apple Watch bands with magnets
  • Apple Watch magnetic charging accessories
  • HomePod
  • HomePod mini
  • Mac mini
  • Mac Pro
  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook Pro
  • iMac
  • Apple Pro Display XDR
  • Beats Flex
  • Beats X
  • PowerBeats Pro
  • UrBeats3

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