Acrylamide

This fact sheet is a summary of the Priority Existing Chemical (PEC) report at the time it was assessed and published.

CAS number: 79-06-1

The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) conducted a full risk assessment of acrylamide [WORD 5.7 MB] and the report was published in May 2002.

Following are the main findings of the assessment.

Acrylamide is imported into Australia for use in the manufacture of other chemicals known as polyacrylamides.

Polyacrylamides are used in wastewater, sewage and water treatment, in surface coatings and adhesives, textile dyeing, leather processing, paper and cardboard manufacture and in cosmetics. Smaller amounts of acrylamide are used by research laboratories.

Acrylamide is not available to the general public, but acrylamide-based polymers containing small residual levels of the chemical are present in various consumer products. Serious health effects can occur through ingestion of, or skin contact with, acrylamide, or by inhalation of its dust, powder or vapour. Acrylamide can cause skin and eye irritation and repeated exposure may cause nerve damage.

Sensitivity can build up with repeated exposure to acrylamide. Studies show that the chemical may cause cancer and damage the genes. Acrylamide may impair fertility. Risk to the general public of exposure to acrylamide is low.

Recommendations

To reduce the risk to workers:

  • avoid exposure to acrylamide by substituting a safer chemical where possible
  • substitute acrylamide liquids for solid where possible
  • conduct personal air monitoring and health surveillance at workplaces, particularly where crystalline acrylamide is used
  • install local exhaust ventilation in areas where acrylamide is detected during monitoring to minimise exposure, and
  • use appropriate full-form personal protective equipment (PPE).

Acrylamide is a hazardous substance. It is listed in Safe Work Australia's Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) and for transportation is classified in Class 6.1 under the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development's Australian Dangerous Goods (ADG) Code.

Like many solids, acrylamide crystals can generate dusts that are flammable in air and can explode in the presence of an ignition source. The National Health and Medical Research Council's Australian Drinking Water Guidelines stipulate a limit for acrylamide in drinking water of 0.2 μg/L.

The national exposure standard is 0.03 mg/m3 (averaged over 8 hours) with a skin notation, indicating that special measures may be required to prevent absorption through the skin.

More information on acrylamide can be found in the (Material) Safety Data Sheet available from the supplier.

Please note, our recommendations are not always implemented by chemical regulators. For the most up-to-date information about how a particular chemical is regulated in your State or Territory you will need to contact other government agencies. Read What we do for details about our regulatory partners.

Last update 1 May 2013