This fact sheet is part of a series of chemical fact sheets developed by TURI to help Massachusetts companies, community organizations and residents understand the chemical's use and health and environmental effects, as well as the availability of safer alternatives. Since Massachusetts companies report usage under the Toxics Use Reduction Act, readers will learn how the chemicals are being used and by which companies.
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.”
Learn more about Acrylonitrile health effects, use in Massachusetts, and alternatives here.