SternisheFan writes "In 2010, Ronald Smith of Scotland, was involved in a six-car accident, during which his airbag deployed successfully. He wasn't hurt, even though he had been hit from behind and had struck the car in front. The crash was of sufficient force that his car window broke and pierced the airbag of his Vauxhall Insignia. (Vauxhall Motors is owned by General Motors.) After the crash, Smith, an engineer, reported seeing white powder emerge from the airbag. His face was also red from some sort of irritation, presumably related to the white powder. As Scotland Daily Record reports, he began to feel ill. He suffered from a cough and shortness of breath. A few
weeks after the crash, he was admitted to hospital, where he died. He had not been a smoker. He had not experienced any other obvious health problems.
An inquest was finally held. During it, a forensic pathologist talked about how Smith's lungs were infected and that he died of bronchial pneumonia. The coroner, Terence Carney, declared in his verdict: "This man died as a result of this incident and more pointedly because of the explosion of his airbag, and this death should be recorded as misadventure."
Washington University's chemistry department says that inside airbags is a mixture of NaN3, KNO3, and SiO2. The end result of the chemical reaction is supposed to be silicate glass, which is safe. What might have happened is still open to conjecture."
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