Polyacrylamide is a polymer of controllable molecular weight formed by the polymerization of acrylamide monomers available in one of three forms: solid (powder or micro beads), aqueous solution, or inverse emulsions (in water droplets coated with surfactant and suspended in mineral oil). Residual acrylamide monomer is likely an impurity in most Polyacrylamide preparations, ranging from <1 ppm to 600 ppm. Higher levels of acrylamide monomers are present in the solid form compared to the other two forms. Polyacrylamide is reportedly used in 110 cosmetic formulations, at concentrations ranging from 0.05% to 2.8%. Residual levels of acrylamide in Polyacrylamide can range from <.01% to 0.1%, although representative levels were reported at 0.02% to 0.03%. Because of the large sizes of Polyacrylamide polymers, they do not penetrate the skin. Polyacrylamide itself is not significantly toxic. For example, an acute oral toxicity study of Polyacrylamide in rats reported that a single maximum oral dose of 4.0 g/kg body weight was tolerated. In subchronic oral toxicity studies, rats and dogs treated with Polyacrylamide at doses up to 464 mg/kg body weight showed no signs of toxicity. Several 2-year chronic oral toxicity studies in rats and dogs fed diets containing up to 5% Polyacrylamide had no significant adverse effects. Polyacrylamide was not an ocular irritant in animal tests. No compound-related lesions were noted in a three-generation reproductive study in which rats were fed 500 or 2000 ppm Polyacrylamide in their diet. Polyacrylamide was not carcinogenic in several chronic animal studies. Human cutaneous tolerance tests performed to evaluate the irritation of 5% (w/w) Polyacrylamide indicated that the compound was well tolerated. Acrylamide monomer residues do penetrate the skin. Acrylamide tested in a two-generation reproductive study at concentrations up to 5 mg/kg day(- 1) in drinking water, was associated with prenatal lethality at the highest dose, with evidence of parental toxicity. The no adverse effects level was close to the 0.5 mg/kg day(- 1) dose. Acrylamide tested in a National Toxicology Program (NTP) reproductive and neurotoxicity study at 3, 10, and 30 ppm produced no developmental or female reproductive toxicity. However, impaired fertility in males was observed, as well as minimal neurotoxic effects. Acrylamide neurotoxicity occurs in both the central and peripheral nervous systems, likely through microtubule disruption, which has been suggested as a possible mechanism for genotoxic effects of acrylamide in mammalian systems. Acrylamide was genotoxic in mammalian in vitro and in vivo assays. Acrylamide was a tumor initiator, but not an initiator/promoter, in two different mouse strains at a total dose of 300 mg/kg (6 doses over 2 weeks) resulting in increased lung adenomas and carcinomas without promotion. Acrylamide was tested in two chronic bioassays using rats. In one study, increased incidence of mammary gland tumors, glial cell tumors, thyroid gland follicular tumors, oral tissue tumors, uterine tumors and clitoral gland tumors were noted in female rats. In male rats, the number of tumors in the central nervous system (CNS), thyroid gland, and scrotum were increased with acrylamide exposure. In the second study, using higher doses and a larger number of female rats, glial cell tumors were not increased, nor was there an increase in mammary gland, oral tissue, clitoral gland, or uterine tumors. Tumors of the scrotum in male rats were confirmed, as were the thyroid gland follicular tumors in males and females. Taken together, there was a dose-dependent, but not statistically significant, increase in the number of astrocytomas. Different human lifetime cancer risk predictions have resulted, varying over three orders of magnitude from 2 x 10(- 3) to 1.9 x 10(- 6). In the European Union, acrylamide has been limited to 0.1 ppm for leave-on cosmetic products and 0.5 ppm for other cosmetic products. An Australian risk assessment suggested negligible health risks from acrylamide in cosmetics. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel acknowledged that acrylamide is a demonstrated neurotoxin in humans and a carcinogen in animal tests, but that neurotoxic levels could not be attained by use of cosmetics. Although there are mechanisms of action of acrylamide that have been proposed for tumor types seen in rat studies that suggest they may be unique to the rat, the Panel was not convinced that these results could be disregarded as a species-specific finding with no relevance to human health and safety. Based on the genotoxicity and carcinogenicity data, the Panel does not believe that acrylamide is a genotoxic carcinogen in the usual manner and that several of the risk assessment approaches have overestimated the human cancer risk. The Panel did conclude, however, that it was appropriate to limit acrylamide levels to 5 ppm in cosmetic formulations.