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Injuries From Exploding Takata Airbags

Steve Wagner

Airbags are designed to save lives, but when they are improperly manufactured, they can do far more damage than good.

A recent development in airbags from Takata, the Japanese manufacturer of car parts, has been noted to cause the spraying of metal fragments upon deployment. Airbags are a delicate balance of technology, electrical wiring, and chemical mixtures, which can mean a recipe for disaster if they are manufactured incorrectly or if mistakes are made during the assembly process.

When a car is involved in an accident, the car’s electrical systems take note of the rapid deceleration and triggers the deployment of the airbag. The majority of airbags are deployed when a flame ignites a pellet of sodium azide (NAN3), which then triggers a chemical reaction that inflates the airbag with nitrogen gas (N2).

The problem with Takata’s airbags came when they began looking for an alternative to the sodium azide. They replaced it with a milder sodium tetrazole, which is less toxic, but also more expensive. In an effort to decrease costs, they eventually switched to a propellant based out of ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3), which is also commonly used as a fertilizer.

The danger with ammonium nitrate is that this compound transitions through a solid state when it changes temperature. During a typical day of temperature transitions for a car, especially during warmer months, the compound can easily switch between liquid to crystalline states, which makes it incredibly unstable and dangerous.

If the airbag is deployed during a crystalline state, these shards and fragments shatter and can be sprayed throughout the interior of the car, causing the airbag to rip and malfunction, and also injuring the passengers inside the vehicle.

Not sure if your vehicle’s airbags have been recalled? Check the NHTSA site and enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident, or injured as the result of a faulty product, call the product liability attorneys at Wagner Reese. Call us at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation and get more information on how we can assist you with receiving compensation for the injuries you have suffered.


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