01.Beware these lethal lollies
Compressed wipes are small and convenient – simply pop them in water and watch them expand, damp and ready to use. They’re ideal for cleaning up dirty hands and faces while on the move, and are likely to appeal to parents with messy kids.
But like many objects this size, the cloths are a choking hazard. A CHOICE laboratory test confirmed they are small enough to block the trachea, and require just a teaspoon of water to start expanding. So if they start expanding due to moisture in the throat, the hazard is even greater. Even when fully swallowed they could still do some harm.
Most children probably won’t attempt to eat one of these cloths, since they’re dry, odourless and presumably tasteless (we didn’t test that particular aspect). But there’s no accounting for what some kids will swallow – coins, cat litter, cigarette butts and even a small Polly Pocket doll are among the many non-food items that have been reported.
Then there are dishwasher tablets, moth balls, medicines and other poisons mistaken for lollies that cause thousands of cases of childhood poisoning each year. So the risk is there.
Water expanding toys with similar properties to these wipes have been banned for sale because they fail the national toy safety standard (AS/NZS ISO 8124.1:2002). We tested these against the same standard and they also fail.
Although these wipes are not toys, given that they’re likely to appeal to parents with small children, CHOICE believes their current lolly-like form is inappropriate – as do consumers who alerted us to the tablets in the first place.
We’ve addressed our concerns to the regulatory authorities, who said there’s no evidence to suggest they present any unacceptable hazard. They pointed out that it’s ultimately parents’ and caregivers’ responsibility to restrict kids’ access to these sorts of products.
Video: Lethal lollies
They're packaged like mints and they look like mints, but you wouldn't want your child to swallow one.