Water: Basic Information about Regulated Drinking Water Contaminants
Basic Information about Acrylamide in Drinking Water
Acrylamide at a Glance
Treatment Technique Requirement:
EPA has regulated acrylamide using a treatment technique requirement because of the absence of a standardized analytical method for its measurement in drinking water.
The Phase II rule, which includes the regulation for acrylamide, limits the allowable residual acrylamide (an impurity) in the polymeric coagulant aids, to 0.05 percent by weight and the dosage of polymeric coagulant aid which can be added to raw water to remove particulates, to 1 part per million (ppm).
Each water system is required to certify, in writing to the primacy authority, that it meets these requirements when using acrylamide- based coagulant aids. A water system may use third-party or manufacturer certification in lieu of testing for the residual monomer level.
Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) = zero
Some people who drink water containing high levels of acrylamideover a long period of time could have problems with their nervous system or blood, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
Chemical Abstract Service Registry Number
Sources of Contamination
Added to water during sewage/wastewater treatment
EPA regulates acrylamide in drinking water to protect public health. Acrylamide may cause health problems if present in public or private water supplies in amounts greater than the drinking water standard set by EPA.
- What is acrylamide?
- Uses for acrylamide.
- What are acrylamide’s health effects?
- What are EPA's drinking water regulations for acrylamide?
- How does acrylamide get into my drinking water?
- How will I know if acrylamide is in my drinking water?
- How will acrylamide be removed from my drinking water?
- How do I learn more about my drinking water?
What is acrylamide?
Acrylamide is an organic solid of white, odorless, flake-like crystals.
Uses for acrylamide.
Acrylamide serves as a raw material (monomer/building block) for manufacturing polymeric coagulant aids for use in drinking water treatment. Other uses include improving production from oil wells; making organic chemicals and dyes; sizing paper and textiles; ore processing; and construction of dam foundations and tunnels.
If you are concerned about acrylamide in a private well, please visit:
What are acrylamide’s health effects?
Some people who drink water containing high levels of acrylamide over a long period of time could have problems with their nervous system or blood, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
This health effects language is not intended to catalog all possible health effects for acrylamide. Rather, it is intended to inform consumers of some of the possible health effects associated with acrylamide in drinking water when the rule was finalized.
What are EPA's drinking water regulations for acrylamide?
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA>. This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur. These non-enforceable health goals, based solely on possible health risks and exposure over a lifetime with an adequate margin of safety, are called maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs). Contaminants are any physical, chemical, biological or radiological substances or matter in water.
The MCLG for acrylamide is zero. EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems.
For most contaminants, EPA sets an enforceable regulation called a maximum contaminant level (MCL) based on the MCLG. MCLs are set as close to the MCLGs as possible, considering cost, benefits and the ability of public water systems to detect and remove contaminants using suitable treatment technologies. When there is no reliable method that is economically and technically feasible to measure a contaminant at particularly low concentrations, a treatment technique is set rather than an MCL. A treatment technique is an enforceable procedure or level of technological performance which water systems must follow to ensure control of a contaminant.
EPA has regulated acrylamide using a treatment technique requirement in lieu of an MCL because of the absence of a standardized analytical method for its measurement in water.
The Phase II rule, which includes the regulation for acrylamide, limits the amount of acrylamide in the polymeric coagulant aids to 0.05% by weight and the dosage of polymeric coagulant aid which can be added to raw water to remove particulates, to 1ppm. Under this regulation, each water system is required to certify, in writing, to the Primacy authority that the coagulant aid's acrylamide content and application dose do not exceed the levels specified in the rule. A water system may use third-party or manufacturer’s certification in lieu of testing for acrylamide level in coagulant aids.The Phase II rule became effective in 1992. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to periodically review the national primary drinking water regulation for each contaminant and revise the regulation, if appropriate. EPA reviewed acrylamide during the second Six Year Review and determined that it is a candidate for regulatory revision.
States may set a more stringent treatment technique level for acrylamide in drinking water than EPA.
How does acrylamide get into my drinking water?
During manufacturing of the acrylamide based polymeric coagulant aids, a small amount of residual acrylamide may remain in the coagulant aids as an impurity. When these coagulant aids are used in water treatment, there is a potential forresidual acrylamideto be introduced in water.Finished water may also contain acrylamide because of raw water contamination from other uses of acrylamide and because of leaching from acrylamide based components and materials used in drinking water treatment, storage and distribution.
A federal law called the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) requires facilities in certain industries, which manufacture, process, or use significant amounts of toxic chemicals, to report annually on their releases of these chemicals. For more information on the uses and releases of chemicals in your state, contact the Community Right-to-Know Hotline: (800) 424-9346.
- EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) website provides information about the types and amounts of toxic chemicals that are released each year to the air, water, and land.
How will I know if acrylamide is in my drinking water?
Public water systems are required to meet the content and dosage requirements for acrylamide based polymeric coagulant aids specified in the treatment technique requirement for acrylamide, and to take steps to correct the situation if they exceed these levels. Water suppliers must notify their customers as soon as practical, but no later than 30 days after the system learns of the violation. Additional actions, such as providing alternative drinking water supplies, may be required to prevent serious risks to public health.
If your water comes from a household well, check with your health department or local water systems that use ground water for information on contaminants of concern in your area.
How will acrylamide be removed from my drinking water?
There are currently no acceptable means of detecting or removing acrylamide from drinking water. EPA requires that its introduction in drinking water be controlled by ensuring that acrylamide content and dosage of the coagulant aids used for water treatment, do not exceed the levels specified in the regulation.
How do I learn more about my drinking water?
EPA strongly encourages people to learn more about their drinking water, and to support local efforts to protect the supply of safe drinking water and upgrade the community water system. Your water bill or telephone book’s government listings are a good starting point for local information.
Contact your water utility. EPA requires all community water systems to prepare and deliver an annual consumer confidence report (CCR) (sometimes called a water quality report) for their customers by July 1 of each year. If your water provider is not a community water system, or if you have a private water supply, request a copy from a nearby community water system.
- The CCR summarizes information regarding sources used (i.e., rivers, lakes, reservoirs, or aquifers), detected contaminants, compliance and educational information.
- Some water suppliers have posted their annual reports on EPA's website.
Other EPA websites
- Find an answer or ask a question about drinking water contaminants on EPA's Question and Answer website or call EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791
- EPA's Integrated Risk Information System
Other Federal Departments and Agencies
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Acrylamide Questions and Answers
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Acrylamide Information