Defective Takata Airbags Are Now Linked To 20 Deaths

Photo credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Another person has been killed by an exploding Takata air bag inflator, bringing the total fatalities linked to the defect to 20.

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Honda and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said this week that a person died on July 10, when a 2004 Honda Civic crashed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Officials from both the automaker and the regulator inspected the car on Tuesday, reports the Associated Press, and confirmed the air bag inflator blew apart.

The person wasn’t identified. The air bag was apparently salvaged from a 2002 Civic, according to a statement from Honda. Here’s more from the AP:

It’s perfectly legal under federal law for air bag assemblies or other parts subject to recall to be pulled out of wrecked cars and sold by junkyards to repair shops that may not even know the danger. No government agency monitors the transactions.

Unlike most other air bag makers, Takata used the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the bags in a crash. But the chemical deteriorates over time when exposed to heat and humidity, causing it to burn too fast and blow apart a metal canister. The resulting shrapnel can kill or injure people. More than 180 people have been hurt this way in the United States alone.

The recall, the largest in the automotive industry’s history, involved 42 million cars and eventually forced Takata to file for bankruptcy. In the intervening years, efforts to recall every vehicle impacted have been slow.

Honda has been proactively trying to reach the owners of more than 10 million vehicles that’ve yet to be fixed by knocking on doors and relying on Facebook.

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Please, everyone, if you know your car’s affected by the recall, get it fixed.

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Ryan Felton

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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