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Killer Air Bags

Ralph welcomes Jerry Cox, author of “Killer Air Bags: The Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You to Know,” his insider account of how the Takata company made air bags that were essentially equipped with pipe bombs of ammonium nitrate. And the former executive director of Greenpeace, Peter Bahouth, comes on to rail against that noisy, polluting scourge of the suburbs: the leaf blower. Plus, Ralph answers your questions.

Jerry Cox is a long-time champion of airbag mandates, attorney, and transportation safety consultant. He is the author of Killer Airbags: The Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You to Know.

“Most people think, ‘If I had a defective airbag and I had it replaced I’m good and I don’t have to worry about it again…’ They think they’re good to go and they’re not. Because all they got was an airbag inflator with a longer fuse on it– a pipe bomb with a longer fuse.”

Jerry Cox, author of Killer Airbags: The Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You to Know 

“The government’s supposed to do something to help you [protect yourself] but they’re not. Nobody’s doing anything to help you. So, what you need to do as a consumer is, number one, don’t wait for a paper recall notice to come to you. Recognize, when you hear this, check your own VIN. Do it on a regular basis. Convince people you love to do the same thing.”

Jerry Cox, author of Killer Airbags: The Deadly Secret Automakers Don’t Want You to Know 

Peter Bahouth is an attorney, climate activist, artist, and former executive director of Greenpeace USA and the U.S. Climate Action Network. He recently wrote an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News on the health and environmental impacts of leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods.

“The people that are operating [leaf blowers], they’re gonna be losing their hearing and they’re going to have respiratory problems. But it takes some time… Gas-powered leaf blowers only burn about sixty to seventy percent of the fuel. The rest of it is atomized out into the air. So, you’ve got an engine on people’s back that would be illegal on the lake… illegal on the street… but you can use it in your backyard.”
Peter Bahouth, former Executive Director of Greenpeace

“We were promised jet packs, and what we got were leaf blowers.”
Peter Bahouth, former Executive Director of Greenpeace

“[Denver-based Civic Health Club Warm Cookies of the Revolution] is the kind of creativity that arises around the country that needs greater exposure by the media. So, thank you for that idea and I hope people will connect with [it] so they can cook up something similar in their neighborhood.”

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 360 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. Robert Clark says:

    OK, not mentioned , but implied, the nature of gas/oil mix 2 stroke motors …

    Own a weed whacker, the blackberry vine is fast growing and electric ones are not adequately powerful ..

  2. David Faubion says:

    Thrilled to hear Peter Bahouth’s head-on fight against the leaf-blowing baloney (bs). Up with beautiful leaves. Stop the insane noise and deadly polution./\

    Please add to your list the so-called weed wacker, and the hideous bass-booming car stereo. Sickening unnecessary noises. California should know better, but the kooky side of this State glorifies the so-called historic route 66. Such a noisy, at times petty state of shallow mud puddle affairs.

  3. Kraig Tolliver says:

    No MP3 file?

  4. Don Harris says:

    And here I thought that “Killer Airbags” was going to be about everyone in the media that has not informed citizens about One Demand so that citizens could get the big money out of our political process by taking action now instead of waiting a few more decades for the big money politicians to get around to doing it on their own for no reason.

  5. Mark Hughes says:

    This might not go over well but this just might be the first episode that I didn’t care for.

    TLDR warning: This comment/rant will be all over the place but here goes anyway.

    First off, it wasn’t the airbag discussion with Jerry Cox that drew my ire. Ralph made a name for himself regarding car safety and I’m not going to mitigate that at all. We all should be grateful not only Cox but Ralph as well.

    But this leafblower segment with Peter Bahouth left me irritated on multiple levels.

    My kneejerk reaction was that if leafblowers are the bane of your existence, then you don’t have much to worry about in life nor in broader political society. We’re in a pandemic, people are losing their jobs left and right, Wall Street has become even more brazen criminals in how it responded to the GameStop Vengeance (I don’t care if they’re 4-Channers or whoever, anyone who kicks hedge funders in the nuts gets my respect). And the looming homelessness crisis is about to get real inside another year or so, I’m sure Aaron Glantz would agree with this. I can go on and on and on…

    This Titanic is about to snap in half but no, let’s dedicate roughly 30 minutes to lawncare machinery.

    Leafblowers, whether we like it or not, provide a convenience to many, and like it or not it is indeed a legitimate alternative to raking, which was oddly lauded as somehow noble. While raking does have advantages over blowers (wet leaves), unlike rakes, blowers can clean up matter that rakes can’t (like finer particulates like dirt, dust, sand). Or are we now supposed to believe that brooms are the alternative in those situations?

    One criticism of leafblowing was that it destroyed the ecosystems of insects who lay eggs in them. Fine. Nevermind that raking does the exact same thing.

    Leafblowing also projects gasoline residue out into the air. But so do lawnmowers, weed trimmers, etc. That’s the nature of engines, both large and small. I hate to delve into “whataboutism” but screw it; to pick on leafblowing as somehow significantly destructive to human health when we have war machinery here and abroad that does exponentially worse is akin to not seeing the forest from the trees.

    I can’t believe I had to write all that. Jeez.

    This crackpot Bahouth reminds me of a branch of what Chris Hedges has correctly called “Boutique Activism”, which is “cultural diversity when divorced from economic and political justice, from the empowerment of the oppressed” and is thoroughly “elitist” ( And it’s always neurotic brunch liberals who champion these weak causes.

    Ralph has obsessed over Trump since day-1, rightly so. He’s been disastrous (but not unexpected to those who aren’t blind), the deplorable cherry on top being the Capitol Riots. Ralph’s segments with Bruce Fein over the first impeachment were well done, factual and informative.

    But like it or not, Trump’s now gone. Instead, we have a new sitting president in MBNA Joe Biden, perhaps the Democrat of Democrats. One who was part of the Washington Swamp long before the Clintons arrived. One who outright lied about immediately getting $2000 stimulus checks out to people during a pandemic. Who publicly said he’s against M4A (and still is) during a global pandemic in which the US is the world leader on cases, deaths, etc. Who has now fanned the flames of permanent war by sending more troops to the Middle East. Who publicly said he has zero regrets for the disasterous crime bill he authored. Who publicly said he won’t ban fracking in the least.

    Has RNRH even addressed the hypocrisy of AOC and the now-phony progressives in Congress by not even attempting to force the vote on M4A by holding Nancy Pelosi’s speakership hostage? The show has always preached holding representatives accountable and such, rightly so. But when there’s a movement to do just that because those ‘progressive’ politicans make excuses for not doing what they campaigned on, all while getting skewered by others on the left, it gets ignored by this show??

    All that, but somehow the RNRH decides to not rail against Biden like it did Trump, but instead has a segment on the evils of leafblowing? Mehdi Hasan correctly wrote that Biden broke his first campaign promise before even being inaugurated. But no, let’s discuss small engine lawncare machinery.

    Once again, and as usual, I find myself with David Feldman as he (seemingly) pokes fun at Bahouth’s brunch-liberal garbage. Protesting lawncare supplier corporations by blowing leafblowers outside their offices (thereby spewing even more gas particulates into the air, HAHA) was a great one! Good job David, Bahouth’s cause, like all boutique activisms, needed to be mocked. “Leftists” like Bahouth are why leftism chronically fails in America.

    • Don Harris says:

      You may be a bit too harsh on the leafblower guy. I have been trying to get Ralph to address One Demand since 2015 which is a way for citizens to force candidates to choose between taking big money and getting our votes and testing Ralph’s theory that politicians want our votes more than big money.

      If I can’t get Ralph to address this approach that uses basic democracy and is exactly what Ralph is always saying we should do after over five years, the leafblower guy must have been working on Ralph for at least 15 years which is long before the pandemic.

      Why else would Ralph choose to put the leafblower guy on the Radio Hour instead of an episode on One Demand (as he said he would on Washington Journal 10-24-2018) when you consider the difference between the problems of leafblowers compared to the problem of big money corrupting our political process and the importance of exploring all possible solutions including citizens using the basic tools of democracy to test Ralph’s theory on our votes and politicians taking big money.

    • Demetrio says:

      Loud leaf blowers annoy me more than the capitol riot (but less than blm and antifa). They blow harmful dust all over the place and can damage one’s hearing.

    • Afdal Shahanshah says:

      Ah, to live in a comfortable middle-class suburb, where the only care I have in the world is people disturbing my peace by loudly tending to their little enclosed grass pastures, a weird remnant from feudal lords… I too sometimes dream to LARP as a little king. Ah, the American Dream.

      I’ve been waiting for nine months for Ralph to address the trillions of dollars the federal government has been throwing at private financial institutions and big business while doing absolutely nothing to subsidize wages of the millions thrown out of work because of lockdowns and distancing. The radio silence has been stunning. I genuinely think Trump has broken Ralph to some degree. I went back and listened to a pre-Trump show recently and the difference in Ralph’s tone is like night and day. I’m glad the war criminal Joe Biden is in office now if nothing else because I want Ralph to start seriously holding Democrats accountable again.

      • Mark Hughes says:

        Fully agreed Afdal. Biden’s been in office 2 weeks and there’s already a ton more important things to address than leaf blowers. His half-century of political criminality is not restricted to war, he’s a pathological plagiarist and got busted umpteen times lying not unlike Trump. He may end up being even more horrible than Obama or Clinton. But no, let’s continue to ignore this guy, who every so often gets his picture snapped with his head placed just perfectly in front of the circular part of his “brand” to give everyone the impression he’s a diety. Here are just a few insulting examples:

        But no, as usual the American left takes their foot off the gas the moment its Messiah wins the Oval Office. Because as we all know, perfection has arrived. Typical, expected, and gets this so-called country going nowhere but backward.

        Bahouth very much epitomizes what Karl Marx and Søren Kierkegaard called the petty bourgeoisie. The latter correctly wrote “the petty bourgeois is spiritless … Devoid of imagination, as the petty bourgeois always is, he lives within a certain orbit of trivial experiences as to how things come about, what is possible, what usually happens, no matter whether he is a tapster or a prime minister.”

        • JP says:

          Air quality isn’t trivial Mark, its not trivial for anyone, even you. This battle for the environment has to move forward on all fronts.

    • JP says:

      Lets not forget that municipal city planners designed the landscape to be blown and vacuumed. It is part of the business model. Recently it was revealed that cities are under-estimating their emissions. It is because of these city plans (mostly in deference to cars) and landscapes (to be maintained indefinitely by power tools) that American cities are so ugly and filled with such an anxious population.

      I’m anticipating Springtime, when no square foot of green will be exempt from the boomer busybodies and their immigrant landscaping crews. They will wreck the the silence, blow microplastic and 6-PPD-Quinone into the air, all to mix together with the exhaust of 100 tailpipes, toasty indoor fireplace smoke, barking dogs, the diesel and ozone stretching out overhead, the oil slicked rainbows below, on baking slabs of asphalt off-gassing in the afternoon sun, and much of all this will make their way inexorably to the neighborhood children’s lungs and nervous system, as they watch the twilight of the fossil fuel age play out its final acts.

  6. Allin says:

    The app for airbag recall notification is “unavailable”

    • Jerry Cox says:

      Odd how every time I put something up to help vehicle owners, it mysteriously disappears! It was supposed to be a Takata app, but why wouldn’t carmakers keep it going?

  7. Jeff Story says:

    Thanks for the leaf blower portion of this segment, they are so annoying and loud. It really shouldn’t be tolerated. A respect for other’s quiet enjoyment of their property is reasonable. The health defects of using them added strength to the argument.

  8. Demetrio says:

    The United States is the only country that I know of where people use these frigging blowers. BAN THEM.

  9. Gabe says:

    An interesting broadcast from the standpoint of consumerism. Thanks at least in part to consumer advocates, consumers now have unprecedented access to ubiquitous products which are more powerful, less expensive, and (at least often) safer than ever before. I’d love to hear some commentary from Ralph Nader regarding consumerism and its discontents – I wonder if he ever feels that his life’s work in any way backfired… would all be aright if only the multinational corporations had not won?
    One of the increasingly devastating side effects of mass consumerism, as referenced in the oceanic “garbage patch” comment, is plastic and petrochemical pollution. (It is a common misperception that it is an island of some kind – rather it is a vast swath of ocean where debris, especially plastic, tends to concentrate, and is generally distributed throughout the waters, often breaking into small chips which devastate sea life). Pollution, whether in the form of leaf blower emissions, chemical waste, or plastics constitute an impending ecological disaster second only to climate chaos.
    So what is the solution? I suppose conscious and conscientious consumerism coupled with civic engagement. It was great to hear the question from the prospective law student looking to create change. But I’m not so sure I would recommend post graduate education personally, at least until the student loan dilemma is resolved. Higher ed too now trends in the direction of a profit driven consumer product. Hopefully, a safety net for borrowers in combination with greater accountability for educators will be in the works someday soon. This would definitely be a win for people who want to go into professions with altruistic intentions!

  10. Stephanie says:

    Wasn’t there a website mentioned in the show to check your VIN for its airbag status?

  11. margaret walsh says:

    MOM’S CLEAN AIR FORCE w/ Ed Markey’s Green New Deal ..

  12. Carla says:

    As much as I hate hearing leaf blowers, I am reminded of who I see using them ~95% when I hear them running. The users are mostly workers or employees whose only option is to blow leaves for a living. Yes, they can use a broom, but using a broom when they have to work on multiple properties a day is not a good use of their time, especially on a minimum wage salary. Be thankful many of you work from home, indoors, out of the elements, in a COVID safe and particular matter free environment.

  13. Paul says:

    The UAW pushes its retirees into Medicare Advantage programs. Sad to hear other unions are doing the same.

  14. Al Laurel says:

    They did miss the biggest point, Gardeners and landscapers both public and private, considered themselves essential and have never observed any order or stopped working ever. With or without masks.

  15. How does one access the transcript of this show?

  16. Judi says:

    Leaf blowers are banned in Berkeley but it doesn’t stop the mow and blow guys. Landscapers is too generous a title for them.