Sodium Azide (NaN3) is an inorganic compound commonly used as the gas forming agent in airbag systems. It is both highly toxic and reactive.
Sodium azide exposure can result in headache, respiratory distress, and diarrhea. It is highly soluble in water and is quickly absorbed through the skin. The azide ion has a similar toxicity to that of cyanide (LD50 = 27mg/kg in rats). In aqueous solution, sodium azide hydrolyses and forms hydroazoic acid which readily volatilizes, posing an inhalation hazard at high concentrations (>5%).
Sodium azide reacts violently with many common laboratory organic compounds and metals. See your SDS for more specific information. Many of these reaction products are highly explosive.
Storage and Use
- Handle in a working, vented fume hood and wear a lab coat, eye protection, closed toe shoes, and appropriate gloves.
- If weighing the dry powder on a scale outside the fume hood: tare the receiving vessel with a lid in place; move vessel to fume hood and add sodium azide; close receiving vessel and return to scale to measure.
- Avoid all contact between sodium azide and metals if possible.
- Never dissolve in chlorinated solvents (chloroform, dichloromethane) as these solvents will react to form explosive compounds.
- Wipe bench and walls of fume hood with soap and water after working with azides.
- Do not allow organic azide waste to come in contact with acids. It should receive its own waste container. Organic azides will react with acids to form the highly toxic hydroazoic acid.