If you are in a car accident, you undoubtedly are to be thankful for your vehicle’s airbags. After all, airbags save hundreds of lives every single year. Still, there is an urban legend that says the chemicals inside airbags are toxic to humans.
To do their job correctly, airbags must deploy or inflate at considerable speeds. This requires a chemical reaction. The chemicals in airbags are not toxic, though. Nevertheless, if you have certain medical conditions, airbag deployment may cause you to experience negative health effects.
The chemicals in airbags
Even though airbags have sodium azide inside of them, the deployment process completely absorbs it. Inflation also releases nitrogen, but nitrogen is not harmful to humans. In fact, nitrogen makes up most of the air you breathe. The only thing you need to worry about is sodium hydroxide, which may be present in airbag dust.
Medical concerns for those with lung conditions
Most drivers should experience little or no irritation from sodium hydroxide. If you have asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema or other lung-related conditions, however, sodium hydroxide may make it difficult to breathe.
Indeed, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, sodium hydroxide is a common cause of bronchoconstriction. After inhaling sodium hydroxide, your asthma-like symptoms may continue to worsen for up to 48 hours.
Your physical well-being
Breathing difficulties can be catastrophic for anyone who has a lung condition, so you do not want to leave your physical well-being to chance. Ultimately, if you inhale airbag dust during a car accident, it is imperative to go to the emergency room for a full evaluation and treatment.