When the airbag has gone off, you often see a lot of smoke and stuff and there is a load of dust and powder all over the car

What is this powder and smoke normally (obviously all air bags are different)?

Is this powder normally dangerous/harmful to humans?

Are there any safety precautions I should take if I work with detonated airbags?

  • 1
    I like this question :-) Jan 27 '16 at 23:27
  • 4
    Not as dangerous as smashing your face into the steering wheel :) Jan 28 '16 at 8:18
  • What about the Sodium Azide (NaN3) that is used to detonate the airbag initially? I have always wondered about this because the combustion of such a chemical would yield Sodium (NA) metal and Nitrogen gas. Sodium in its natural state is also highly volatile with water. Not to mention that the original substance the Azide is very acutely toxic.
    – Lektronikz
    Aug 17 '17 at 20:16

According to a couple of sources I read, the substance in the air bags is either cornstarch or talcum powder.

How Stuff Works says:

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.

NOTE: The highlight is theirs.

There shouldn't be any danger from either one of these substances.

  • 1
    I didn't google it because I wanted the surprise of the answer :-) I'm shocked. I was convinced it would be some horrible compound. Jan 28 '16 at 0:02
  • @DucatiKiller - The only thing horrible coming out of airbags are metal shards if those air bags just happen to be made by Takata ... I have no clue who would have designed an airbag that way. Flippin' idiots. Jan 28 '16 at 0:09
  • yeah, unbelievable cover up with that as well. Gross.... Jan 28 '16 at 0:10
  • 1
    There shouldn't be any danger from either one of these substances. -- Unless you happen to have asthma. On rare occasions I've seen it trigger asthma attacks. But mainly, it triggers well-meaning bystanders into yanking injured people out of cars because they think it's smoke and the car is on fire.
    – user1573
    Jan 28 '16 at 0:42
  • @user1573 - Correct on both accounts. Jan 28 '16 at 1:07

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