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Could an unstable compound cause airbags to explode?

If you thought that you were constantly driving with a potential bomb in your car, how often would you drive it? Indeed, most people understand that if a gas tank became ruptured, the results would be catastrophic. This is why many cars are designed so that the tank will not be compromised in the event of an accident.

The same theory applies with airbags. They are supposed to inflate instantly so that the driver and other occupants may be protected. However, depending on what is used to inflate the bags, the canister containing the airbags could be a bomb itself. 

We have noted how airbags manufactured by Takata have been recalled because of how the canister could explode, sending metal, shrapnel-like fragments into unsuspecting drivers. However, a recent article in the Atlantic sheds more light on what may have caused the defective airbags.

Essentially, the chemicals used to inflate the airbag can become unstable, which may cause the airbag canisters to explode when the airbag inflates; and it may even explode without a crash. The Atlantic article even suggested that Takata knew about the potential dangers, and did not take reasonable steps to abate the problem.

It remains to be seen whether this information will lead to a products liability lawsuit against the Japanese airbag maker. After all, it conceivably has a duty to inform consumers of potential defects and to take reasonable steps in remedying them. Indeed, millions of cars have been recalled as a result, but a number of people have been killed and injured because of exploding airbag canisters. 

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