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Can your car’s airbag give you an asthma attack?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2022 | Car Accidents

When it comes to driver and passenger safety, it is difficult to overstate the importance of airbags. After all, when airbags deploy, they prevent individuals from colliding with hard objects inside the vehicle. After even a moderately severe car accident, you are sure to be thankful for your car’s airbags.

If you have asthma, you probably know exactly what triggers your attacks. These triggers may be pollen, smoke, perfumes, pet hair or something else. Still, unless you have been in more than one car accident in the past, your lungs may have no experience with the chemicals and byproducts inside your car’s airbags.

Sodium Azide

To ensure they inflate properly, most airbags have sodium azide. This chemical, which often looks and feels like cornstarch, allows the airbag to deploy without sticking to itself. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though, sodium azide can be toxic, especially for those with asthma.


It is not uncommon for deployed airbags to create some fumes. Even though you cannot see these fumes, they have a noxious smell. If your lungs are sensitive to odors or smoke, you should expect them to react negatively to the fumes from your car’s airbags.


To work correctly, airbags must inflate rapidly. This requires a bit of an explosion before a cushion suddenly appears in your face. Put simply, the stress from being near a deploying airbag may be enough to trigger an asthma attack.

Even if you have a rescue inhaler, you may not be able to stop an asthma attack on your own. Ultimately, by visiting the emergency room, you decrease your chances of dying or suffering additional injuries from an airbag-related asthma attack.