Friday, May 29, 2015

Air Bags

So I went to a minor motor vehicle accident which occurred at fairly low speed. There were no injuries thankfully but one of the cars appeared to be full of smoke. I promptly called the fire brigade who dutifully turned up, opened the doors and let the 'smoke' out. It turns out the 'smoke' was just a talculm powder cloud that had been released and had filled up the car when the air bag deployed.
This got me thinking. If the powder had filled the car enough to appear it was full of smoke, how would that affect a patient inside who had inhaled it? According to manufacturers the air bags are inflated with harmless nitrogen gas but they do use talcum powder to lubricate the bag. In theory this shouldn't be toxic although breathing that much powder into your lungs in an enclosed space is bound to cause some respiratory problems. Then I can across this news story

Killed by an airbag: Husband in minor crash got pneumonia after breathing in 'noxious' gases and powder when the bag burst

Now I am no toxicologist but it now has me wondering about the effect that clouds of powder may have on both rescue workers and patients? What are your thoughts?