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Publication of NIOH and NIOSH Basis for an Occupational Health Standard. Acrylamide: A Review of the Literature

As part of an agreement with the National Institute of Occupational Health (NIOH) in Solna, Sweden, CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) develops documents to provide the scientific basis for establishing recommended occupational exposure limits. One such document, NIOH and NIOSH Basis for an Occupational Health Standard. Acrylamide: A Review of the Literature (1), was recently released. *

Acrylamide is an odorless, white, crystalline solid used as a monomer or as a raw material in the production of polyacrylamides. Workers potentially exposed to acrylamide monomer are employed in acrylamide manufacturing and processing, grouting operations, and research and analytical laboratories.

More than 10,000 U.S. workers were potentially exposed to acrylamide monomer during 1981-1983, either in acrylamide manufacturing and processing or in grouting operations (particularly in sewer grouting) (CDC, National Occupational Exposure Survey, 1981-1983). An additional 100,000-200,000 U.S. workers are researchers and technicians involved in the preparation of polyacrylamide gels (2).

Only the acrylamide monomer is toxic; polyacrylamide products are generally considered nontoxic. Acrylamide monomer may be neurotoxic, carcinogenic, genotoxic, and hazardous to reproduction. Acrylamide exposures cause cancer and reproductive effects in animals, but epidemiologic studies have not demonstrated these effects in humans.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's current occupational exposure limit for acrylamide is 0.03 mg/m3. Standards for other countries are included in the document's appendix.


  1. NIOSH. NIOH and NIOSH basis for an occupational health standard. Acrylamide: a review of the literature. Cincinnati: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, 1991;DHHS publication no. (NIOSH)91-115.

  2. Environmental Protection Agency. Preliminary assessment of health risks from exposure to acrylamide. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Toxic Substances, 1988.

    • Single copies of this document are available without charge from the Information Dissemination Section, Division of Standards Development and Technology Transfer, NIOSH, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226; telephone (513) 533-8287.

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