Category Archives: safety

There’s a little bomb in your airbag


Yep, it’s true, heard it on the news the other night. A company in Japan is being investigated for injuries caused when the automobile airbags they manufacture are exploding into the very people they are made to protect.

Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata Corporation originally discovered the issue back in 2004 and began to investigate, according to insider reports, but then shut that internal investigation down and destroyed all evidence collected. The airbags in question were made at the company’s Monclova Plant in Mexico. The issue and several recalls, involve defective inflator and propellant devices.

In 1998, Takata publicized the fact that they were using tetrazole, a new propellant developed as a “reliable and effective compound” for airbag inflation. By 2001, they had switched to an ammonium nitrate compound, which is among other things a cheaper alternative. Ammonium nitrate  is highly sensitive to temperature changes and moisture. It also breaks down over time, which can result in violent combustion. Ammonium nitrate is used in fertilizer, in the manufacture of explosives, and in solid rocket fuel.

Still considered one of the worst accidents in Texas history, in 1947 a ship, the S.S. Grandcamp was taking on a load of ammonia nitrate, when it caught fire and exploded (killing close to 600 people. It had caught on fire and the fire department was trying put it out when it became unstable and exploded killing all twenty-six Texas City firemen. They all thought it was just fertilizer and had no idea of the danger. Wow, does that sound familiar – they had no idea of the danger.

My point here, Takata manufactured and sold these devices that have been installed in almost 8 million vehicles in the U.S. alone, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These defective airbags explode releasing metal shrapnel pieces. My research showed that the other airbag manufacturers do not use this type of propellant. Pretty nasty stuff, especially when I already worry as close as I have to sit to the steering wheel that I’m going to be decapitated or have my chest crushed as it is . . .

I have to be honest, I had never given a thought to how my airbags worked, and I’ll bet most of you haven’t either – yet we use these unconsciously every day, with them pointed at our faces and chests.

If you haven’t checked your vehicle, this is your public service announcement – please do so here:

List of Vehicles Involved

VIN Recall Registry

Just something I was thinking about . . .

[Still working on the novel for NaNoWriMo – but seriously behind. Close to 25,000 words. Whether I make it or not, I’m already much further than I have ever made it before, so . . . I’m cool, and not giving up yet, either. 🙂 ]

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