Smith, E. and Oehme, F., Acrylamide and Polyacrylamide: A Review of Production, Use, Environmental Fate and Neurotoxicity. Comparative Toxicology Laboratories. 1991; 9(4): 215-219.
Acrylamide is a highly water soluble vinyl monomer formed from the hydration of acrylonitrile. The major commercial use of acrylamide is the formation of polymers. In the environment acrylamide has a high mobility in soil, may travel great distances in ground-water, is biodegradable, and is not absorbed by sediments or affected by water treatment. It is absorbed by all routes of animal exposure. The main metabolite is N-acetyl-S-(3-amino-3-oxypropyl)-cysteine and is excreted predominantly in the urine. Acrylamide produces an ascending central/peripheral axonopathy in man and animals. The major histological findings are swelling of axons and/or decrease in number of large diameter axons. Acrylamide axonopathy is reversible with time, but full recovery depends upon the severity of the intoxication. All reported cases of acrylamide toxicity have been attributed to handling the monomer. Polyacrylamide is non-toxic. Specific clinical features of acrylamide intoxication are more conclusive than electrophysiological, histological or biochemical laboratory tests for diagnosis. Acrylamide can be detected by titration, colorimetry, high performance chromatography, gas chromatography and polarography in air, water, biological fluids, tissues and polyacrylamides. Present research on the effects of acrylamide focuses on developmental and reproductive effects, genotoxicity and carcinogenicity.