Evaluation of Asthmatic Volunteers' Pulmonary Responses to Effluents from Automotive Airbags

Occupants of motor vehicle involved in accidents are occasionally forced to breathe gases and aerosols from deployed airbags for an extended period of time. These effluents are primarily combustion products from pyrotechnic devices used to release inert inflating gas from pressurized containers. This study evaluated the respiratory irritancy of six contemporary prototype driver/passenger airbag systems, using a previously established U.S. auto industry protocol for human testing. For each system, ten volunteers with asthma were exposed individually inside an automobile passenger compartment, during deployment and for 20 minutes afterwards. Symptoms and lung function were monitored for two hours after exposure. Findings showed that all the airbag systems fulfilled the established standard of no more than three in ten subjects with positive response (defined as clinically meaningful lung function disturbance plus increased asthma symptoms). Three systems evoked no positive responses. Statistically significant differences in lung function and symptom responses between systems were not accurately predictable from measured pollutant concentrations. These results indicate that current airbag system designs vary appreciably in their potential to provoke asthma. This study also indicates that using human testing is a safe and practical way to evaluate the respiratory health risk of new airbag designs.

  • Availability:
  • Authors:
    • Linn, William S
    • Gong Jr, Henry
  • Publication Date: 2005


  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01005747
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Oct 11 2005 11:03PM