Is the Dust That Comes out of an Airbag Toxic?

The dust released from an airbag after deployment is not toxic, but rather a mixture of corn-based powder that helps the rapid propulsion of the airbag. It might cause irritation of the throat and itching, watery eyes.

Have you been in an accident where an airbag deployed? Besides the impact of the airbag on your body, you will feel something like a warm powder suddenly covering you. There will also be a distinct smell to it.

According to auto.howstuffworks.com:

"The powdery substance released from the airbag, by the way, is regular cornstarch or talcum powder, which is used by the airbag manufacturers to keep the bags pliable and lubricated while they're in storage."

However, dust may also come from inside the airbag. Older airbags used sodium azide as their explosive to generate nitrogen gas and propel.

New ones use different chemicals, for example, sodium hydroxide or potassium chloride. So, the smoke and dust particles you see when an airbag deploys may come from these various chemicals used to make the airbag open and expand rapidly in the event of an emergency. Sodium azide (NaN3) ensured the airbag device worked efficiently as soon as impact triggered it but it is a potentially deadly chemical. Also, all the sodium azide from discarded airbags was dangerous for the environment.

Are Airbags Dangerous?

The effects of the airbag dust may vary from person to person. Some people may not be affected by the chemicals released while others will be. Airbag dust often irritates the mucous membrane and air passages, which has serious effects on breathing. The most common symptoms from airbag dust are:

  • Throat irritation
  • Itchy, watery eyes

Ammonium nitrate, the chemical used by Takata in its propellant, which generates the gases to inflate the airbag, turned out to be very unstable and untamable. After a long series of ruptured airbags had injured drivers and passengers, Takata airbags became the focus of a global safety crisis with millions of vehicles recalled worldwide.

While the airbags may save you from something far worse, they often produce unexpected injuries in the course of doing their job.

Many times people don't realize their injuries were caused or worsened by the airbag. The cause of the injury may be the actions of the driver who hit you or those of an airbag manufacturer, if the airbag was defective. In-depth knowledge of products liability and personal injury law will ensure you are getting full compensation, which is why a qualified attorney can help you in these types of accident cases.

Call Miami-based lawyer Sean M. Cleary 305.416.9805 for a free consultation if you were in a collision and suffered additional injuries due to an airbag.


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