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IUPAC name
Other names
Acrylic amide[1]
ChemSpider  Y
Jmol-3D images Image
Molar mass 71.08 g·mol−1
Appearance white crystalline solid, no odor[1]
Density 1.13 g/cm3
Melting point 84.5 °C (184.1 °F; 357.7 K)
Boiling point None (polymerization); decomposes at 175-300°C[1] 
2.04 kg/L (25 °C)
Main hazards potential occupational carcinogen[1]
Safety data sheet ICSC 0091
GHS pictograms [2]
H301, H312, H315, H317, H319, H332, H340, H350, H361, H372[2]
P201, P280, P301+310, P305+351+338, P308+313[2]
Toxic (T)
Carc. Cat. 2
Muta. Cat. 2
Repr. Cat. 3
R-phrases R45, R46, R20/21,
R25, R36/38, R43,
R48/23/24/25, R62
S-phrases S53, S45
NFPA 704
Flash point 138 °C (280 °F; 411 K)
424 °C (795 °F; 697 K)
Lethal dose or concentration (LD, LC):
LD50 (Median dose)
100-200 mg/kg (mammal, oral)
107 mg/kg (mouse, oral)
150 mg/kg (rabbit, oral)
150 mg/kg (guinea pig, oral)
124 mg/kg (rat, oral)[3]
US health exposure limits (NIOSH):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 0.3 mg/m3 [skin][1]
REL (Recommended)
Ca TWA 0.03 mg/m3 [skin][1]
60 mg/m3[1]
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
 Y  (: Y/N?)

Acrylamide (or acrylic amide) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula C3H5NO. Its IUPAC name is prop-2-enamide. It is a white odorless crystalline solid, soluble in water, ethanol, ether, and chloroform. Acrylamide decomposes in the presence of acids, bases, oxidizing agents, iron, and iron salts. It decomposes non-thermally to form ammonia, and thermal decomposition produces carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and oxides of nitrogen.

Acrylamide can be prepared by the hydrolysis of acrylonitrile by nitrile hydratase. In industry, most acrylamide is used to synthesize polyacrylamides, which find many uses as water-soluble thickeners. These include use in wastewater treatment, gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE), papermaking, ore processing, tertiary oil recovery, and the manufacture of permanent press fabrics. Some acrylamide is used in the manufacture of dyes and the manufacture of other monomers.

The discovery of acrylamide in some cooked starchy foods in 2002 prompted concerns about the carcinogenicity of those foods. As of 2014 it is still not clear whether acrylamide consumption affects people's risk of developing cancer.[4]


  • Uses 1
    • Molecular biology laboratories 1.1
    • Other uses 1.2
  • Toxicity and carcinogenicity 2
  • Occurrence in food and associated health risks 3
    • Discovery of acrylamide in foods 3.1
    • Acrylamide toxicity from food exposure 3.2
    • Opinions of health organizations 3.3
      • Heat-generated food toxicants (HEATOX) study 3.3.1
    • Public awareness 3.4
  • Occurrence in other products 4
    • Cigarettes 4.1
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Molecular biology laboratories

Polyacrylamide was first used in a laboratory setting in the early 1950s. In 1959, the groups of Davis and Ornstein[5] and of Raymond and Weintraub[6] independently published on the use of polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to separate charged molecules.[7] The technique is widely accepted today, and remains a common protocol in molecular biology labs.

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. Many laboratory supply companies sell LPA for this use.[8]

Other uses

The majority of acrylamide is used to manufacture various polymers.[9][10] In the 1970s and 1980s, the proportionately largest use of these polymers was in water treatment.[11] Additional uses include as binding, thickening or flocculating agents in grout, cement, sewage/wastewater treatment, pesticide formulations, cosmetics, sugar manufacturing, soil erosion prevention, ore processing, food packaging, plastic products, and paper production.[9][12] Polyacrylamide is also used in some potting soil.[9] Another use of polyacrylamide is as a chemical intermediate in the production of N-methylol acrylamide and N-butoxyacrylamide.[12]

US demand for acrylamide was 253,000,000 pounds (115,000,000 kg) as of 2007, increased from 245,000,000 pounds (111,000,000 kg) in 2006.[12]

Toxicity and carcinogenicity

Acrylamide is considered a potential occupational carcinogen by U.S. government agencies and classified as a neurotoxic effects in humans who have been exposed. Animal studies show neurotoxic effects as well as mutations in sperm.[12]

As of 2014 it is still not clear whether dietary acrylamide consumption affects people's risk of developing cancer. Possible confounding effects include the fact that humans have been cooking food for hundreds of thousands of years, so that results from animals may not be applicable.[4]

Acrylamide is also a skin irritant and may be a tumor initiator in the skin, potentially increasing risk for skin cancer. Symptoms of acrylamide exposure include dermatitis in the exposed area and peripheral neuropathy.[12]

Laboratory research has found that some phytochemicals may have the potential to be developed into drugs which could alleviate the toxicity of acrylamide.[13]

Occurrence in food and associated health risks

Discovery of acrylamide in foods

Acrylamide was discovered accidentally in foods in April 2002 by scientists in Sweden when they found the chemical in starchy foods, such as potato chips (potato crisps), French fries, and bread that had been heated higher than 120 °C (248 °F) (production of acrylamide in the heating process was shown to be temperature-dependent).[14] It was not found in food that had been boiled[14][15] or in foods that were not heated.[14]

Acrylamide has been found in roasted barley tea, called mugicha in Japanese. The barley is roasted so it is dark brown prior to being steeped in hot water. The roasting process revealed 200 - 600 micrograms/kg of acrylamide in mugicha.[16] This is less than the >1000 micrograms/kg found in potato crisps and other fried whole potato snack foods cited in the same study and it is unclear how much of this is ingested after the drink is prepared. Rice cracker and sweet potato levels were lower than in potatoes. One whole potato food was found to have significantly lower acrylamide levels than the others suggesting a link between food preparation method and acrylamide levels.

Acrylamide levels appear to rise as food is heated for longer periods of time. Although researchers are still unsure of the precise mechanisms by which acrylamide forms in foods,[17] many believe it is a byproduct of the Maillard reaction. In fried or baked goods, acrylamide may be produced by the reaction between asparagine and reducing sugars (fructose, glucose, etc.) or reactive carbonyls at temperatures above 120 °C (248 °F).[18][19]

Later studies have found acrylamide in [22][23]

The FDA has analyzed a variety of U.S. food products for levels of acrylamide since 2002.[24]

Acrylamide toxicity from food exposure

Although acrylamide has known toxic effects on the nervous system and on fertility, a June 2002 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization concluded the intake level required to observe neuropathy (0.5 mg/kg body weight/day) was 500 times higher than the average dietary intake of acrylamide (1 μg/kg body weight/day). For effects on fertility, the level is 2,000 times higher than the average intake.[25] From this, they concluded acrylamide levels in food were safe in terms of neuropathy, but raised concerns over human carcinogenicity based on known carcinogenicity in laboratory animals.[25]

Opinions of health organizations

According to the American Cancer Society it is not clear, as of 2013, whether acrylamide consumption affects people's risk of developing cancer.[26]


  • Environmental Protection Agency Acrylamide and Food
  • International Chemical Safety Card 0091
  • Institut national de recherche et de sécurité (1992). "Acrylamide." Fiche toxicologique n° 119. Paris:INRS. (French)
  • National Pollutant Inventory – Acrylamide
  • "NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards #0012".  
  • World Health Organization

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards #0012".  
  2. ^ a b c Sigma-Aldrich Co., Acrylamide. Retrieved on 2013-07-20.
  3. ^ a b Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1994). "Documentation for Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentrations (IDLHs) - Acrylamide". 
  4. ^ a b Xu, Y; Cui, B; Ran, R; Liu, Y; Chen, H; Kai, G; Shi, J (Apr 5, 2014). "Risk assessment, formation, and mitigation of dietary acrylamide: Current status and future prospects.". Food and chemical toxicology : an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association 69C: 1–12.  
  5. ^ Davis and Ornstein. Retrieved on 2012-06-11.
  6. ^ Raymond and Weintraub. (1959-09-18). Retrieved on 2012-06-11.
  7. ^ Reynolds S, Weintraub L. (1959). "Acrylamide Gel as a Supporting Medium for Zone Electrophoresis". Science 130 (3377): 711.  
  8. ^ GenElute™-LPA from Sigma-Aldrich.
  9. ^ a b c  
  10. ^ Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (September 1994). "II. Production, Use, and Trends". Chemical Summary for Acrylamide (plain text) (Report). United States Environmental Protection Agency. EPA 749-F-94-005a. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Polyacrylamide". Hazardous Substances Data Bank. United States National Library of Medicine. February 14, 2003. Consumption Patterns. CASRN: 9003-05-8. Retrieved November 30, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f Dotson, GS (April 2011). "NIOSH skin notation (SK) profile: acrylamide [CAS No. 79-06-1]." (PDF). DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-139 (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)). 
  13. ^ Adewale OO, Brimson JM, Odunola OA, Gbadegesin MA, Owumi SE, Isidoro C, Tencomnao T (2015). "The Potential for Plant Derivatives against Acrylamide Neurotoxicity". Phytother Res (Review).  
  14. ^ a b c Tareke E; Rydberg P.; et al. (2002). "Analysis of acrylamide, a carcinogen formed in heated foodstuffs". J. Agric. Food. Chem. 50 (17): 4998–5006.  
  15. ^ Food Standards Agency, Acrylamide: your questions answered [4] Retrieved on 2008-01-01
  16. ^ Ono, H.; Chuda, Y.; Ohnishi-Kameyama, M.; Yada, H.; Ishizaka, M.; Kobayashi, H.; Yoshida, M. (2003). "Analysis of acrylamide by LC-MS/MS and GC-MS in processed Japanese foods". Food Additives and Contaminants 20 (3): 215.  
  17. ^ A Novel Technique for Limitation of Acrylamide Formation in Fried and Baked Corn Chips and in French Fries [5] Retrieved on 2012-07-13
  18. ^ Mottram DS, Wedzicha BL. and Dodson AT. (2002). "Acrylamide is formed in the Maillard reaction". Nature 419 (6906): 448–449.  
  19. ^ Chemistry World, Acrylamide cancer link confirmed [6] Retrieved on 2008-01-01
  20. ^ "Acrylamide detected in prune juice and olives" Food Safety & Quality Control Newsletter 26 March 2004, William Reed Business Media SAS, citing "Survey Data on Acrylamide in Food: Total Diet Study Results" United States Food and Drug Administration February 2004; later updated in June 2005, July 2006, and October 2006
  21. ^ a b Acrylamide in dried Fruits ETH Life (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich)
  22. ^ Mucci, LA; Sandin, S; Bälter, K; Adami, HO; Magnusson, C; Weiderpass, E (2005). "Acrylamide intake and breast cancer risk in Swedish women". JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association 293 (11): 1326–7.  
  23. ^ Top Eight Foods by Acrylamide Per Portion. p. 17. (2004). Retrieved on 2012-06-11.
  24. ^ Survey Data on Acrylamide in Food: Individual Food Products. Retrieved on 2012-06-11.
  25. ^ a b FAO/WHO Consultation on the Health Implications of Acrylamide in Food; Geneva, 25–27 June 2002, Summary Report. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2014-11-09.
  26. ^ "Acrylamide".  
  27. ^ Acrylamide, WHO
  28. ^ Health Canada: Acrylamide. Retrieved on 2012-06-11.
  29. ^ "Do you want anti-cancer drug in junk food?". The Star (Toronto). 2009-12-22. Retrieved 2010-04-23. 
  30. ^ Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern for authorisation. Retrieved on 2012-06-11.
  31. ^ a b c heat-Generated Food Toxicants; Identification, Characterisation and Risk Minimisation. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2012-06-11.
  32. ^ HEATOX, Heat-generated food toxicants: identification, characterisation and risk minimisation. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2012-06-11.
  33. ^ HEATOX project completed – brings new pieces to the Acrylamide Puzzle. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2012-06-11.
  34. ^ Attorney General Lockyer Files Lawsuit to Require Consumer Warnings About Cancer-Causing Chemical in Potato Chips and French Fries, Office of the attorney general, State of California, Department of justice
  35. ^ Lawsuit over potato chip ingredients settled Retrieved on 2008-08-02
  36. ^ "Settlement will reduce carcinogens in potato chips". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2008-08-21. Retrieved 2008-08-02. 
  37. ^ Vesper, H. W.; Bernert, J. T.; Ospina, M.; Meyers, T.; Ingham, L.; Smith, A.; Myers, G. L. (2007). "Assessment of the Relation between Biomarkers for Smoking and Biomarkers for Acrylamide Exposure in Humans". Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention 16 (11): 2471.  
  38. ^ Olesen, PT; Olsen, A; Frandsen, H; Frederiksen, K; Overvad, K; Tjønneland, A (2008). "Acrylamide exposure and incidence of breast cancer among postmenopausal women in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study". International Journal of Cancer. Journal International Du Cancer 122 (9): 2094–100.  


See also



Occurrence in other products

On April 24, 2002, the Swedish National Food Administration announced that acrylamide can be found in baked and fried starchy foods, such as potato chips, breads, and cookies. Concern was raised mainly because of the probable carcinogenic effects of acrylamide. This was followed by a strong, but short-lived, interest from the press. On August 26, 2005, California attorney general Bill Lockyer filed a lawsuit against four makers of french fries and potato chips – H.J. Heinz Co., Frito-Lay, Kettle Foods Inc., and Lance Inc. – to reduce the risk to consumers from consuming acrylamide.[34] The lawsuit was settled on August 1, 2008, with the food producers agreeing to cut acrylamide levels to 275 parts per billion in three years, to avoid a Proposition 65 warning label.[35] The companies avoided trial by agreeing to pay a combined $3 million in fines as a settlement with the California attorney general's office.[36]

Public awareness

The Heat-generated Food Toxicants (HEATOX) Project was a European Commission-funded multidisciplinary research project running from late 2003 to early 2007. Its objectives were to "estimate health risks that may be associated with hazardous compounds in heat-treated food [, and to] find cooking/processing methods that minimize the amounts of these compounds, thereby providing safe, nutritious, and high-quality food-stuffs."[31][32] It found that "the evidence of acrylamide posing a cancer risk for humans has been strengthened,"[33] and that "compared with many regulated food carcinogens, the exposure to acrylamide poses a higher estimated risk to European consumers."[31] HEATOX sought also to provide consumers with advice on how to lower their intake of acrylamide, specifically pointing out that home-cooked food tends to contribute far less to overall acrylamide levels than food that was industrially prepared, and that avoiding overcooking is one of the best ways to minimize exposure at home.[31]

Heat-generated food toxicants (HEATOX) study

In February 2009, Health Canada announced that they were assessing whether acrylamide, which occurs naturally during the cooking of French fries, potato chips, and other processed foods, is a hazard to human health and whether any regulatory action needs to be taken. Currently, they are collecting information on the properties and prevalence of acrylamide in order to make their assessment.[28] In December 2009, after a positive reception from the food industry, Health Canada invited comment from the public on this proposal.[29] The European Chemical Agency added acrylamide to the list of substances of very high concern in March 2010.[30]


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