In April 2021, Apple launched its Bluetooth tracker ‘AirTag’. With only 1.2-inch in size, the AirTag is the smallest tracker available in the market which is designed to help users locate their commonly used or easily miss placed items like keys, wallets, and bags. However, concerned about the device’s button battery, the Australian Competiton and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released a warning which urges parents to keep young children away from AirTags. The authority is also in discussion with Apple over the tracker’s safety issue.
AirTag is powered by a CR2032 coin cell battery. Users can self-replace the battery by a push and twist mechanism which the ACCC is dissatisfied with. The regulatory authority states that “the AirTag’s battery compartment could be accessible to young children, and the button battery removed with ease. In addition, the AirTag battery compartment’s lid does not always secure fully on closing, and a distinctive sound plays when an AirTag’s lid is being closed, suggesting the lid is secure when it may not be.” In addition, the authority is also concerned with the device’s packing which does not include a warning label of coin/button batteries.
Therefore the authority is asking the parents to be cautious. ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said that;
“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.”
ACCC states AirTag like coin battery a leading cause of fatal injuries in children in Australia
The commission explains that button/coin batteries are dangerous for children, especially five years old and younger because they can swallow the battery which can get stuck in a child’s throat and cause a chemical reaction that burns through tissue, causing death or serious injury within a short amount of time. The statement shared stats that batteries have led to death and serious injuries in children.
Three children have died and 44 have been severely injured in Australia from incidents involving button batteries in other products, and more than one child a month is seriously injured as a result of ingesting or inserting the batteries which are contained in millions of consumer goods worldwide.
As a preventive measure, the authority has passed new mandatory safety and information standards which will go into effect on June 22, 2022, that will be applicable to all button batteries and consumer goods containing button batteries in the country. Ms. Rickard said,
“Currently in Australia, suppliers are guided by an industry code which is voluntary. We urge all manufacturers and suppliers to be ready to comply with the new mandatory standards as soon as possible.”
And the ACCC is in talks with suppliers of a range of different products, including Apple, over concerns about “the accessibility of button batteries in those products.” At the time of launch, an Australian retailer refused to sell AirTag over the same children’s safety concern.