Acrylamide (or acrylic amide) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula C3H5NO. Its IUPAC name is prop-2-enamide. It is a white odourless crystalline solid, soluble in water, ethanol, ether, and chloroform. Acrylamide can react violently when melting and when it is heated, acrid fumes may be released. It is incompatible with acids, bases, oxidising agents, iron, and iron salts. It decomposes non-thermally to form ammonia, and thermal decomposition produces carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and oxides of nitrogen. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][1,2]


Uses [1]


Acrylamide is prepared on an industrial scale by the hydrolysis of acrylonitrile by nitrile hydratase. Most acrylamide is used to synthesise polyacrylamides, which find many uses as water-soluble thickeners. These include use in wastewater treatment, gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), papermaking, ore processing, and the manufacture of permanent press fabrics. Some acrylamide is used in the manufacture of dyes and the manufacture of other monomers. In addition, acrylamide has many other uses in molecular biology laboratories, including the use of linear polyacrylamide (LPA) as a carrier, which aids in the precipitation of small amounts of DNA. The majority of acrylamide is used to manufacture various polymers. These are used as binding, thickening or flocculating agents in grout, cement, sewage/wastewater treatment, pesticide formulations, cosmetics, sugar manufacturing, soil erosion prevention, ore processing, food packaging and plastic products. Polyacrylamide is also used in some potting soil.


Sources & Routes of Exposures [2]


Sources of Exposure


The primary source of exposure for the general population is ingestion of contaminated food. Acrylamide is formed in foods that are rich in carbohydrates when they are fried, grilled or baked. Starchy foods such as potato-based products typically contain the highest levels of acrylamide, whereas protein-based foods contain smaller amounts. Exposure can also occur in places near plastic and dye plants and drinking water may contain acrylamide. Furthermore, exposure may occur through inhalation of tobacco smoke (including second-hand smoke). Occupational exposure may occur in people involved in the production or use of acrylamide and acrylamide-containing products. Exposure may also occur in laboratories utilising polyacrylamide gels.


Routes of Exposure


The main routes of exposure to acrylamide are via inhalation, dermal adsorption and ingestion. When inhaled, acrylamide is readily and rapidly absorbed following inhalation and oral exposure, and somewhat less rapidly following dermal exposure.Once absorbed, acrylamide is widely distributed throughout the body.Acrylamide is rapidly metabolised; glycidamide is the principle toxicologically significant metabolite. It is thenexcreted from the body as metabolites in the urine.


Health Effects [3]


Acute Effects


Central and peripheral nervous system damage, with effects such as drowsiness and hallucinations, has been observed in humans acutely exposed to acrylamide through inhalation exposure. Acrylamide (when occurring as a monomer) is a potent neurotoxicant at low levels. Acute oral exposure to acrylamide has resulted in neurotoxic effects in rats and effects on the kidney in monkeys exposed by injection.


Chronic Effects


Chronic oral exposure to acrylamide has been observed to produce nerve damage, with effects such as numbness and weakness in the hands and legs, in humans and animals. Chronic dermal exposure may result in an exfoliative, reddish rash in humans. EPA has not established a Reference Concentration (RfC) for acrylamide. The Reference Dose (RfD) for acrylamide is 0.0002 milligrams per kilogram body weight per day (mg/kg/d) based on nerve damage in rats.


Reproductive/Developmental Effects


No information is available on the reproductive or developmental effects of acrylamide in humans. In one animal study, decreases in body weight and body weight gain and an increase in preimplantation loss were observed in rats orally exposed to acrylamide. In mice orally exposed to acrylamide, decreased sperm counts were reported.


Cancer Risk


Two studies have been carried out examining worker exposure to acrylamide and cancer mortality. EPA considers both of these studies to be inadequate to determine cancer risk due to the small populations studied and incomplete exposure data. In rats orally exposed to acrylamide, significantly increased incidences of tumours at multiple sites have been observed. These include mammary tumours, central nervous system tumours, thyroid follicular tumours, and uterine adenocarcinoma in female rats and thyroid follicular tumours and scrotal mesothelioma in males. EPA has classified acrylamide as a Group B2, probable human carcinogen.


Safety [4]


First Aid Measures


  • Eye Contact: Check for and remove any contact lenses. In case of contact, immediately flush eyes with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. Cold water may be used. Get medical attention.
  • Skin Contact: In case of contact, immediately flush skin with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes while removing contaminated clothing and shoes. Cover the irritated skin with an emollient. Cold water may be used. Wash clothing before reuse. Thoroughly clean shoes before reuse. Get medical attention immediately.
  • Serious Skin Contact: Wash with a disinfectant soap and cover the contaminated skin with an anti-bacterial cream. Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Inhalation: If inhaled, remove to fresh air. If not breathing, give artificial respiration. If breathing is difficult, give oxygen. Get medical attention.
  • Serious Inhalation: Evacuate the victim to a safe area as soon as possible. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. If breathing is difficult, administer oxygen. If the victim is not breathing, perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Seek medical attention.
  • Ingestion: If swallowed, do not induce vomiting unless directed to do so by medical personnel. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Loosen tight clothing such as a collar, tie, belt or waistband. Get medical attention immediately.


Exposure Controls & Personal Protection


Engineering Controls


Use process enclosures, local exhaust ventilation, or other engineering controls to keep airborne levels below recommended exposure limits. If user operations generate dust, fume or mist, use ventilation to keep exposure to airborne contaminants below the exposure limit.


Personal Protection


  • Splash goggles;
  • Lab coat;
  • Dust respirator (be sure to use an approved/certified respirator or equivalent);
  • Gloves.


Personal Protection in Case of a Large Spill

  • Splash goggles;
  • Full suit;
  • Dust respirator;
  • Boots;
  • Gloves;
  • A self contained breathing apparatus should be used to avoid inhalation of the product.


Note: Suggested protective clothing might not be sufficient; consult a specialist BEFORE handling this product.


Regulation [4,5,6]


United States


OSHA: The United States Occupational Safety & Health Administration has set the following Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL)for acrylamides:


ACGIH: The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists has set a Threshold Limit Value (TLV) for acrylamide of 0.03 mg/m3TWA; Skin; Appendix A3 (Confirmed Animal Carcinogen with Unknown Relevance to Humans)


NIOSH: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has set a Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) for acrylamide of 0.03 mg/m3TWA; Skin; Appendix A – Potential Occupational Carcinogen




Safe Work Australia: Safe Work Australia has set an 8-hour Time Average (TWA) exposure limit for acrylamide of 0.03 (mg/m3).




TWA: 0.3 (mg/m3) [United Kingdom (UK)] Inhalation