skin contact with acrylamide

Bryan L. Ford fordb at
Mon Jul 20 13:30:05 EST 1998

An individual with skin exposure to acrylamide in solution wrote:

> >help - any advice ???
> >The caution labels say not to let it get on your skin, and if it does to
> >wash with soap and water for 15 minutes.
> >I had some of the monomer  (in solution with other ingredients) drip on
> >my lab coat sleeve and soak thru to my arm - I removed my lab coat
> >immediately, and washed with soap and water, but for only a very short
> >time.
> >
> >It wasn't that much acrylamide...maybe about 10ml of a 10%
> >solution...but now I'm feeling numb in my face and pins and needles
> >(like electrical sparks) in my hands and arms.
> >
> >Is it going to get worse?  Or will it stay this way?  How does
> >acrylamide behave once in the body - does it break down or does it
> >continue to circulate and do more damage?   I can't seem to find this
> >information anywhere.  I'm so afraid.  Can anyone give me some advice?

In response Dima Klenchin wrote:
> Sure, go see your doctor - this may help you feel better. Should not
> hurt anyway...

Much better to see your doctor immediately and request referral to an
appropriate clinician associated with a strong neurotoxicology research
center affiliated with a medical school. The advice given here by Dima
Klenchin is amazingly glib considering the obvious errors its contains.
> Frankly, IMHO, the symptoms you are experiencing are likely caused by
> your knowledge that acrylamide is toxic substance (neurotoxin, to be
> specific), not by acrylamide itself. From your description, it's clear that
> very little of it ever reached your skin (most absorbed by the coat).

The coat may have served to smear it more widely on the the surface of
the skin. The usual feeling on bare skin of being "wet" can often be
masked by simultaneous contact with the cloth.

> The rest
> does not penetrate the skin that fast - a brief wash should suffice. 

This is erroneous advice. Acrylamide monomer is a small, amphipathic,
molecule with considerable ability to dissolve in polar and non-polar
substances (that is in plasma and to pass cell membranes. Acrylamide
monomer has high mobility through normal latex lab gloves as well.
Immediate and extended washing with water should be strongly advised.
Immediate further treatment might have been beneficial but any delays
increase the likelihood of permanent and progressive damage.

> Next, to
> get long-term effects of acrylamide poisoning, one must have really strong
> short-term effects, which isn't something you describe.

This is almost diametrically contrary to fact. Long-term effects of
acrylamide neurotoxicity from moderate occupational exposures are very
frequently not accompanied by any short-term effects. However, short
term effects are reported and have severe prognostic indications. 

> I don't doubt that acrylamide is toxic, 

And you would not have any doubt if you bothered to familiarize yourself
with the literature before expounding from what appears to be almost
complete ignorance.

> but can't help noting that ATP is
> toxic upon ingestion and sucrose is combustible substance.

The apparent attempt to reduce anxiety by ridicule is dangerously
misplaced here. This acrylamide exposure is quite possibly an extremely
serious situation. I am thankful that other respondents were more
responsible in recommending *immediate*
care. When posting to such newsgroups as these one should be aware that
dismissive medical recommendations can have severe health consequences,
not only for the immediate situation but for many others who may
eventually splash acrylamide on themselves by accident. Even worse would
be the consequence that lab personnel would begin, as a result of such
dismissiveness, to use acrylamide much more carelessly.

Bryan L. Ford

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