||This article only describes one highly specialized aspect of its associated subject. (June 2012)|
|Jmol-3D images||Image 1
|Molar mass||71.08 g mol−1|
|Melting point||84.5 °C; 184.1 °F; 357.6 K|
|Boiling point||– (polymerization)|
|Solubility in water||2.04 kg/L (25 °C)|
|GHS hazard statements||H301, H312, H315, H317, H319, H332, H340, H350, H361, H372|
|GHS precautionary statements||P201, P280, P301+310, P305+351+338, P308+313|
|EU classification||Toxic (T)
Carc. Cat. 2
Muta. Cat. 2
Repr. Cat. 3
|R-phrases||R45, R46, R20/21,
R25, R36/38, R43,
|Autoignition temperature||424 °C; 795 °F; 697 K|
| (what is: / ?)
Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C (77 °F), 100 kPa)
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 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.
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.
Acrylamide is a known lethal neurotoxin (median lethal dose in rabbit = 150 mg/kg) and animal carcinogen. Its discovery in some cooked starchy foods in 2002 prompted concerns about the carcinogenicity of those foods.
- 1 Uses
- 2 Toxicity and carcinogenicity
- 3 Occurrence in food and associated health risks
- 4 Occurrence in other products
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Molecular biology laboratories
Polyacrylamide was first used in a laboratory setting in the early 1950s. In 1959, the groups of Davis and Ornstein and of Raymond and Weintraub independently published on the use of polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis to separate charged molecules. 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.
The majority of acrylamide is used to manufacture various polymers. In the 1970s and 1980s, the proportionately largest use of these polymers was in water treatment. 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 and plastic products. Polyacrylamide is also used in some potting soil.
Toxicity and carcinogenicity
Some evidence suggests exposure to large doses can cause damage to the male reproductive glands. Direct exposure to pure acrylamide by inhalation, skin absorption, or eye contact irritates the exposed mucous membranes, e.g., the sinuses, and can also cause sweating, urinary incontinence, nausea, myalgia, speech disorders, numbness, paresthesia, and weakened legs and hands. In addition, the acrylamide monomer is a potent neurotoxin, causing the disassembly or rearrangement of intermediate filaments. Ingested acrylamide is metabolised to a chemically reactive epoxide, glycidamide.
Acrylamide is considered a potential occupational carcinogen by US government agencies. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have set dermal occupational exposure limits at 0.03 mg/m3 over an eight-hour workday.
Occurrence in food and associated health risks
Discovery of acrylamide in foods
Acrylamide has been found to occur in many cooked starchy foods and is of concern as a possible carcinogen. Acrylamide was accidentally discovered 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 to over 120 °C (248 °F) (production of acrylamide in the heating process was shown to be temperature-dependent). It was not found in food that had been boiled or in foods that were not heated.
Acrylamide levels appear to rise as food is heated for longer periods of time. Though researchers are still unsure of the precise mechanisms by which acrylamide forms in foods, 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).
Acrylamide is also found in cocoa powder and chocolate, formed during cacao bean roasting.
Estimates for the proportion of acrylamide in adults' diet coming from the consumption of coffee range from 20 to 40%; prune juice has a high concentration of acrylamide, though adults consume it in far smaller quantities. Acrylamide is also found in cocoa powder, roasted almonds, whole wheat bread, and Pringles.
The FDA has analyzed a variety of US food products for levels of acrylamide since 2002.
A 72-hour study of urine from six young healthy volunteers who had consumed a meal containing 0.94 mg of acrylamide concluded, "most of the acrylamide ingested with food is absorbed in humans".
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. 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.
Human cancer risk of acrylamide exposure from food
Acrylamide causes cancer in rats when administered orally in high-dose experiments, increasing tumors in the nervous system, oral cavity, peritoneum, thyroid gland, mammary gland, uterus, and clitoris. There is a margin of 900-fold between the dose that gave cancer to 10% of rats and human exposure to acrylamide in the diet.
To determine the human cancer risk from acrylamide, several studies have been conducted using food frequency data to estimate acrylamide intake and its effect on cancer risk. A Swedish study using 1,525 patients failed to find a link between acrylamide in food and liver, kidney and bowel cancers. A larger Swedish study on 45,306 men also found no link between dietary intake of acrylamide and risk for colorectal cancer. A large Italian study covering 1991–2000 in Italy and Switzerland analyzed the risk of cancer of the oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, larynx, large bowel, breast, and ovaries from consumption of fried/baked potatoes, and found no association. A 2005 study of 43,404 Swedish women in the Women's Lifestyle and Health Cohort found that the women's greatest sources of acrylamide were from coffee (54% of intake), fried potatoes (12% of intake), and crisp bread (9% of intake), but found no association between breast cancer risk and higher intake of any specific foods. A 2009 Swedish follow-up study on 61,433 women also found no association between long-term dietary acrylamide intake and breast cancer. Another 2009 study on 90,628 premenopausal women in the United States also found no relationship between dietary acrylamide intake and breast cancer risk. A Dutch study on 62,573 women aged 55–69 years did find a link between acrylamide intake and increased risks of postmenopausal endometrial and ovarian cancer after adjusting for smoking, but not with breast cancer.
Although only one of these studies found an association between dietary acrylamide and cancer, it has been pointed out that food frequency questionnaires do not give a very precise measure of actual acrylamide exposure. A 2008 study using blood acrylamide levels after adjusting for smoking did find a 2.7-fold increase in risk for estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer for every 10-fold increase of acrylamide.
Opinions of health organizations
The World Health Organization (WHO) has set up a clearinghouse for information about acrylamide that includes a database of researchers/data providers; references for research published elsewhere; information updates about the current status of research efforts; and updates on information relevant to the health risk of acrylamide in food.
One question the site's FAQ addresses is whether there can be an acceptable level of acrylamide in food. The WHO states that "Acrylamide belongs to the group of chemicals thought to have no reliably identifiable 'threshold' of effects, meaning that very low concentrations will also result in very low risks, but not in zero risk: Some risk is always present when the chemical is ingested. However, for these carcinogens, risk is thought to increase with increasing exposure. Very low risks (even of cancer), such as those that are less than one in one million, are considered to be acceptable to some consumers. To others this is unacceptable. The important pre-requisite for any decision is, however, a clear picture of the nature and level of the risk, as well as the potential for lowering this level. This clear picture does not exist for acrylamide at present." 
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. They are currently collecting information on the properties and prevalence of acrylamide in order to make their assessment. In December 2009, after a positive reception from the food industry, Health Canada invited comment from the public on this proposal. The European Chemical Agency added acrylamide to the list of substances of very high concern in March 2010.
Heat-generated food toxicants (HEATOX) study
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] find cooking/processing methods that minimize the amounts of these compounds, thereby providing safe, nutritious, and high-quality food-stuffs." It found that "the evidence of acrylamide posing a cancer risk for humans has been strengthened," and that "compared with many regulated food carcinogens, the exposure to acrylamide poses a higher estimated risk to European consumers." 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.
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 2005-08-26, 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. The lawsuit was settled on 2008-08-01, with the food producers agreeing to cut acrylamide levels to 275 parts per billion in three years, to avoid a Proposition 65 warning label. The companies avoided trial by agreeing to pay a combined $3 million in fines as a settlement with the California attorney general's office.
In 2007, more than 100 articles were written about acrylamide, according to Nexis and Factiva, including pieces in the LA Times, the Boston Globe, the Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal, among others.
Occurrence in other products
Acrylamide may be a natural decay product of the polyacrylamide used as a thickening agent in some commercial herbicides. Lab tests have shown that heat and light can decompose polyacrylamide into acrylamide.
- Acrydite: research on this compound casts light on acrylamide
- Deep fryer
- Vacuum fryer
- Substance of very high concern
- Heterocyclic amines
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
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