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                                    Umled States      EPA 749-F-94 006
                                    Environmenlal Pnoledion Decembet 19&4
                                    Ayency


                                    CKIce of Pollution Prevention and Toxcs (74IJ1)
                                                                            oER^V Chemicals in the
                                                                                    Environment
                                                                                   ACRYLAMIDE
                                                                                   (CAS NO. 79-06-1)
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 Chemicals can  be  released  to the envi-
 ronment as a result of their manufacture,
 processing, and use.  The EPA has de-
 veloped information  summaries on se-
 lected  chemicals to  describe how you
 might  be  exposed to these chemicals,
 how exposure to them might affect you
 and  the environment, what  happens to
 them in the  environment, who  regulates
 mem, and whom to contact for additional
 information. EPA  is committed  to re-
 ducing   environmental   releases   of
chemicals through  source reduction and
other practices  that reduce  creation of
 pollutants.
 WHAT IS ACRVLAMIDE, HOW IS
 IT USED, AND HOW MIGHT I BE
             EXPOSED?

       Acrylamide is an odorless solid
that exists as  flake-like crystals.  It does
not occur naturally but  is produced in
large  amounts (100  million  pounds in
1992) by three companies in the United
States.  US demand for acrylamide is
likely to increase during the next several
years  The largest users of acrylamide are
companies  that  make  polyacrylamide
polymers.  Companies also use  acryla-
mide  to make N-butoxyacrylamide and
N-methylolacrylamide. Products such as
clarifying agents, adhesives, printing ink
emulsion stabilizers,  thickening agents
for agricultural sprays, and water reten-
tion aids can also contain acrylamide.

       Exposure to acrylamide can oc-
cur in the workplace or in the environ-
 ment following releases to air, water, land, or
 groundwater.  Acrylamide enters the body
 when breathed in with contaminated air or
 when consumed  with contaminated food or
 water.  It can also be absorbed through skin
 contact. It is not likely to remain in the body
 due to its removal in urine.
 WHAT HAPPENS TO ACRYLAMIDE
       IN THE ENVIRONMENT?

       Acrylamide  dissolves when mixed
with water.  Most direct releases of acryla-
mide to the environment are to underground
sites or to air. Once in air, acrylamide breaks
down to  other chemicals.  Microorganisms
that live in water and in soil  can also break
down acrylamide.  Because of its ability to
mix with water and its inability to bind well
to soil, acrylamide that makes  its way into the
ground can  move through the ground and
enter groundwater.   Plants and animals are
not likely to store acrylamide.

 HOW DOES ACRYLAMIDE AFFECT
     HUMAN HEALTH AND THE
           ENVIRONMENT?

       Effects  of acrylamide on   human
health and the environment depend  on how
much  acrylamide is present and the length
and frequency of exposure.   Effects also
depend on the health of a  person  or the
condition of the environment when exposure
occurs.

       Exposure to  acrylamide  for short
periods  of time can  adversely affect  the
human netvous system.  Effects range
from  drowsiness  to  incoordination,
hallucinations, and confusion.  Direct
contact vith dissolved acrylamide
irritates tl.e  skin.   Acrylamide dust
irritates ths respiratory system.  These
effects are not likely to occur at levels
ofacrylarridethatare  normally found
in the environment.

       H Jinan  health  effects asso-
ciated  wih  breathing  or otherwise
consuming small  amounts of acry-
lamide over  long periods of time are
not knowi.  Workers repeatedly ex-
posed to icrylamide have developed
neurologic  symptoms  such  as  ab-
normal sensation, muscle weakness,
and   incoordination     Laboratory
studies show that  repeat exposure to
acrylamide  causes similar  adverse
nervous system effects in animals.
Studres si low that repeat exposure to
acrylamide also causes general tox-
icity, adverse blood effects, and ad-
verse reproductive effects in animals.
Lifetime exposure to  small amounts
of  acryhimide  in drinking  water
causes ciincer  in  animals.   Repeat
exposure to acrylamide  may likewise
cause cancer in humans.

       Acrylamide is not likely to
cause  environmental  harm at  levels
normally found in  the environment

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