Airbags

According to the coroner's office, Ronald Smith of Mardsen, South Shields in the UK "died as a result of the car crash and more pointedly because of the explosion of his airbag, and exposure to noxious substances."

According to IOL Motoring, Smith had been involved in a six-car accident in November of 2010 on his way home from work. While he wasn't physically injured in the crash, Smith inhaled the noxious contents of his airbag, which he said amounted to gases and a bunch of white powder, when an errant shard of glass punctured the bag.

A short time later, Smith was placed on a ventilator at South Tyneside District Hospital after suffering random coughing fits and breathlessness from any kind of physical activity. Smith died three weeks after being admitted to the hospital due to bronchial pneumonia.

Smith had been driving a Vauxhall Insignia, and General Motors is reportedly investigating the accident. Sodium azide, a chemical used to inflate airbags, turns into nitrogen gas when heated to inflate the device. Although sodium azide is toxic to humans, this appears to be the first time someone has died from its use in automotive airbags.