The primary uses of acrylonitrile in Massachusetts are the manufacture of styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) resins and acrylamide-based coatings. A probable carcinogen and suspected reproductive toxin, exposure to acrylonitrile should be avoided. Because acrylonitrile is not persistent or bioaccumulative and is used as an intermediary chemical, the primary concerns have been with its exposure to workers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes the current state of acrylonitrile’s carcinogenicity as follows: “A statistically significant increase in the incidence of lung cancer has been reported in chronically exposed workers. However, many of these studies contain deficiencies such as lack of exposure information, short follow up, and confounding factors. In several studies, an increased incidence of tumors has been observed in rats exposed by inhalation, drinking water, and gavage.”
Massachusetts consumes less than one tenth of one percent of total U.S. consumption of acrylonitrile. The use of acrylonitrile in Massachusetts declined by almost 25% between 1990 and 1996.