Acrylamide

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84.5 °C, 358 K, 184 °F

- (polymerization)

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 is incompatible with 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 is prepared on an industrial scale by the hydrolysis of acrylonitrile by nitrile hydratase.

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, and the manufacture of permanent press fabrics. Some acrylamide is used in the manufacture of dyes and the manufacture of other monomers.

Acrylamide also occurs in many cooked starchy foods and is of concern as a possible carcinogen.[1] 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, French fries, and bread that had been heated (production of acrylamide in the heating process was shown to be temperature-dependent).[1] It was not found in food that had been boiled[1][2] or in foods that were not heated.[1]

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.[3] In December 2009, after a positive reception from the food industry, Health Canada invited comment from the public on this proposal.[4]

The European Chemical Agency added acrylamide to the list of substance of very high concern in March 2010.[5]

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