Super-absorbent polymer beads – product safety

Super-absorbent polymer beads may present a choking risk, particularly to children.

What you need to know

Super-absorbent polymer beads are able to absorb and hold large quantities of fluids. They are commonly used as water-retaining agents:

  • for horticultural applications
  • in disposable hygiene products
  • with household displays of cut flowers.

The beads can cause choking or obstruction if they are eaten or inhaled. They are especially dangerous because symptoms can appear long after the contact with the product, and the beads do not show up in x-rays.

What you need to do

Super-absorbent polymers that are sold as small, multicoloured dry beads — designed to be soaked in water to grow into jelly-like orbs — are a hazard to small children and infants.

The dry beads are easily spilled and can get stuck to hands and then be transferred to the mouth or nose. Once soaked in water, the beads look like jelly-type lollies and may be eaten by young children.

If you have a safety problem or concern

If you have some concerns about the safety of a product or if you’re injured by a product, you should tell the retailer or supplier about it.

You also have the right to ask for a remedy such as a refund, replacement or repair under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). One of the guarantees in the CGA is that products must be of acceptable quality and this includes that the product is safe.

Faulty products – Consumer Protection(external link)

In addition, it’s good to report the details to us – product safety reports from the public help government agencies to identify systemic issues and help us to prioritise and respond to issues.

Report an unsafe product