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Kaka’ako EHSO – Acrylamide SOP Template

Created: March, 2008 – Updated: October 1, 2013

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Principal Investigator:

Lab Location(s):

Emergency Contact Information:

Annual Review Date:

Statement of Understanding and Compliance
I confirm that I have read and understand this SOP and will comply with the procedures and policies.
Name: Signature: Date:

Before working with acrylamide, the lab worker must have the approval of the PI who shall provide specific training according to this SOP and in understanding the MSDS provided by the manufacturer. The lab worker must complete UH lab safety training and UH Kaka’ako hazardous waste generator training prior to working with any chemicals. The lab worker should sign this SOP as documentation that he/she understands the hazards and has been trained in how to work with acrylamide safely.
Acrylamide is commercially available in pre-mixed aqueous solutions or in powder form. In the powder form, Acrylamide is odorless and white in color. In its powder form, the monomer is extremely dangerous because the dust can easily become airborne and enter the respiratory system. In this regard, pre-mixed Acrylamide is safer to use. Therefore, Researchers are strongly encouraged to purchase pre-made stock solutions or readymade gels. Toxicity and exposure potential decreases dramatically after Acrylamide has polymerized. However, since complete polymerization cannot be assured, exposure remains a concern. The following safety procedures should be followed by laboratory workers who handle Acrylamide.

Acrylamide (2-Propeneamide, vinyl amide) CAS# use in powder/dry form. Modify the SOP if you’re using only the liquid form.

Acrylamide is a common research chemical in laboratories used for separation of protein and nucleic acids according to size by electrophoresis and as a cross linking (polymerizing) agent during gel chromatography and electrophoresis and is a suspected carcinogen and known neurotoxin.


Daily use of this chemical without manifesting symptoms of overexposure may lead to a false sense of security on the part of laboratory personnel. Acrylamide is toxic by all routes of exposure with the effects of overexposure often delayed from days to months, and in some cases, years. Therefore, laboratory workers must take precautions to prevent skin contact, inhalation, and accidental ingestion, even in small quantities. Acrylamide monomer is highly toxic by inhalation and via skin contact (can penetrate unbroken skin easily); also a suspected carcinogen and neurotoxin. The polymer is not generally considered as toxic.

Affects of Overexposure

Acrylamide is know to attack the nervous system, and in particular the peripheral nervous system. Early signs of acrylamide poisoning often include tingling in the fingers, numbness in the legs and feet, tenderness to the touch, excessive sweating of the feet and hands, bluish-red skin, peeling of the skin of the hands, and less often peeling of the feet. These symptoms may be followed quickly by others including muscle weakness of the hands and feet with the resultant loss of the ability to write or walk. Even later symptoms include weight loss and drowsiness, weak or absent tendon reflexes, such as the knee jerk, muscular atrophy in the hand or thumb, and occasionally urinary and fecal retention.

Routes of Exposure

While the toxicity of many chemicals vary depending upon whether they are inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or ingested, the symptoms of overexposure to acrylamide appear to be the same regardless of the route of exposure. In addition, because the chemical readily absorbs through the skin, it is not “safer” to spill acrylamide on exposed skin than to breathe it.

Acute Verses Chronic Effects

An acute exposure may not yield symptoms of toxicity for several days to weeks after exposure, during which time there may be continued exposure. There are virtually no warning properties and symptoms of acrylamide poisoning may be delayed. The following list of symptoms is provided in order of the most commonly reported symptoms from overexposure and whether the symptoms appeared earlier or later based upon reports reviewed from the National Institutes of Health:

Initial symptoms:

• Numbness, tingling, and tenderness to the touch.

• Skin and eye irritation.

Later symptoms (days or 1 to 2 weeks):

• Coldness of the hands and fingers.

• Coldness of the feet and toes (less often).

• Excessive sweating (concurrently or occasionally somewhat later).

• Bluish-red skin on the hands (concurrently or occasionally somewhat later).

• Peeling of the hands and less often the feet (concurrently or occasionally somewhat later).

Later Symptoms:

• Fatigue.

• Marked weakness of the limb muscles.

• Fecal and urine retention (may be more related to ingestion).

• Changes in personality (may occur from large doses or ingestion).

Cancer Hazard:

Acrylamide is a probable human carcinogen. Repeated exposure to slightly higher amounts may induce multi-site cancers.

Reproductive Hazard:

Acrylamide has been reported to be a reproductive hazard based mainly upon animal studies which led to reproductive effects, including abortion, reduced fertility, and mutagenicity.


  • Impermeable gloves should be used when potential for skin contact exists; gloves shall be changed frequently. Disposable nitrile, neoprene, natural rubber, PVC, or butyl gloves should be worn; confirm glove type and use limitations by referring to the JABSOM Glove Compatibility and Use Guide (contact Kaka’ako EHSO).

  • Safety glasses with side shields or chemical splash goggles shall be worn.

  • A laboratory coat should be worn when working with chemicals.

  • Closed toe shoes are required when working in the laboratory.

  • ***If the user chooses to wear a dust mask to avoid inhalation when working with the powder, OSHA regulations specify that certain requirements and trainings be met before purchasing masks and use of masks and respirators, contact JABSOM EHSO for more information. A lab worker can avoid exposure to the powder form without wearing a respirator if manipulation is restricted to a properly operating fume hood.


  • Work with acrylamide powders in a properly operating and certified chemical fume hood; do not work with acrylamide powder in a biosafety cabinet as this may cause the acrylamide to be re-circulated within the cabinet or into the room.

  • Work at least 6” inside the hood, never place your head in the hood, set the sash at the lowest position possible (if using the horizontal sliding sashes do not open past the labeled positions).

  • Engineering controls should be used whenever feasible to maintain airborne acrylamide concentrations at the lowest achievable levels.


  • Powder easily becomes airborne and may result in personal exposure and area contamination. Use care to avoid dispersing dust. Keep container tightly closed to prevent acrylamide from subliming and entering the atmosphere.

  • It is highly recommended that all chemicals be stored below eye level so cracking or leaking containers are immediately visible and there is less potential for chemicals falling onto lab workers when pulling from shelves.

  • Keep from contact with oxidizing materials, reducing agents, acids, bases, metal and contaminants.

  • Coat work bench with absorbent bench paper prior to working with acrylamide to prevent contamination of non-disposable surfaces.

  • Be able to locate the nearest safety eye wash and safety shower with your eyes closed.

  • Transport chemicals in closed containers, in the smallest amounts possible, and use aids such as carts, chemical transport carriers, etc.

6. PROCEDURES ****Modify this section to reflect your lab specific procedures!

  • Areas where gels are poured should be protected with a lab bench cover. Bench covers should be disposed via EHS upon contamination from spilling or after usage.

  • Measuring Acrylamide Powder

    • If it is necessary to use acrylamide in powder form, lab workers shall do the following (laboratory personnel are strongly encouraged to purchase aqueous stock solutions or pre-made gels).

    • Wear gloves, a lab coat, and goggles during measuring, weighing, and mixing operations.

    • If there is a risk of splash, wear a full face shield.

    • Ensure that the entire hand and arm area is covered.

    • Do not allow a break in protective coverage at the wrist if coat and gloves do not overlap.

    • Use a chemical fume hood to measure an amount of acrylamide into a pre-weighed, closable container.

    • Tightly close container for transport.

    • The closed container can then be moved safely from the hood to the balance to be weighed. If more or less material is needed, return the container to the hood and adjust the amount of material.

  • Pouring gels and post electrophoresis

    • Wear appropriate PPE (gloves, eye protection, lab coats) when setting up, pouring, and dismantling electrophoresis apparatus.


  • In the event of skin contact, immediately wash with soap and water and remove contaminated clothing. Do not use disinfecting chemicals such as ethanol or bleach as this could actually increase skins permeability to acrylamide.

  • In the event of eye contact, promptly wash with copious amounts of water for 15 minutes (lifting upper and lower eyelids occasionally) and obtain medical attention.

  • In the event of ingestion, obtain medical attention immediately.

  • If large amounts of acrylamide dust are inhaled, move the person to fresh air and seek medical attention at once.

  • Contact Kaka’ako EHSO about completing the appropriate Incident Forms.

Small spills:

Don appropriate PPE. If potential respiratory hazard exists, contact Kaka’ako EHSO.

Collect spilled material and clean up material into appropriate waste container.

Small liquid spill:

Absorb with broad spectrum absorbent materials and place into containers for disposal. Wash with soap and water.

***Alternative treatment if possible: Treat site with 1.6% potassium persulfate, then with 1.6 % sodium metabisulfite. Let stand for 30minutes, wash with plenty of water.

Small dry spill:

If the powder is spilled, wet paper towels and gently lay on top of the spill to avoid creation of airborne dust when cleaning the spill.

Large spills:

Notify others in room of spill. Evacuate room/immediate area. Call Security and Kaka’ako EHSO. Post room with warning notifying others of spill. Prevent unnecessary entry into area. Provide assistance and information to spill responders.

Report all spills (minor and major) and any near misses to Kaka’ako EHSO.

  • Avoid contamination of non-disposable surfaces by covering with absorbent bench paper before work.

  • Collect spilled material and wash the area with plenty of soap and water. If the area cannot be sufficiently decontaminated, it must be clearly labeled as a contaminated work area.

  • ***Alternative process: periodically treat area where unpolymerized acrylamide is used with 1.6% potassium persulfate, then with 1.6 % sodium metabisulfite. Let stand for 30 minutes and then wash with plenty of water.

Polymerized gels can be placed in the regular trash according to UH EHSO Hazardous Materials Management Officer Tim O’Callaghan. All other items must be submitted to Kaka’ako EHSO as hazardous waste.
10. MSDS LOCATION ****Where is this located, as an attachment to the SOP, in the MSDS folder, etc? Must have an MSDS, preferably manufacturer specific, specific for each type of acrylamide used (per CAS#).

References: Information contained in this SOP was gathered from the following sources: CDC and National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Melbourne, University of Delaware, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Northwestern University.

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