ANALYSIS OF ACRYLAMIDE IN DRINKING WATER
Report No FR0486

P R Smith, B F Hegarty, M W Norris

Nov 1994

SUMMARY

I OBJECTIVES

To develop and test the performance of an analytical method for acrylamide in drinking water. To survey the occurrence of acrylamide in a range of drinking waters.

II REASONS

Polyacrylamides are used in the water industry as coagulants, and in particular at drinking water treatment works to aid water clarification. An impurity from the manufacture of polyacrylamides is the monomer, acrylamide (propenamide), a known neurotoxin and genotoxic carcinogen. The WHO Guideline Value for the maximum safe level of acrylamide in drinking water is 0.5 g 1-1. The levels of acrylamide in drinking waters are at present controlled by regulating the amount of active polymer that can be used and the level of acrylamide monomer in the polyacrylamide. To fully safeguard drinking water supplies from contamination by acrylamide, a suitable method for measuring low levels (< 0.5 g l-1) of acrylamide in water is required. Existing analytical methods are insufficiently sensitive.

III CONCLUSIONS

The development of a suitable method proved very difficult. However, a tentative method for determining acrylamide in drinking water has been developed. It is based on modified existing methods and uses a selective mass-spectrometric detector to minimise interferences. The method is sensitive with a linear detector response down to 0.05 g/l. However the method has not been tested with real drinking water samples and has not been fully validated.

IV RECOMMENDATIONS

It is recommended that the tentative method be used to survey the occurrence of acrylamide in drinking water supplies, using additional quality control samples to check the performance of the method. As the method has not been validated, caution should be exercised in its use until sufficient validation data has been acquired.

V RESUME OF CONTENTS

Existing methods for acrylamide analysis were identified and assessed. The development of an analytical method for acrylamide in drinking water is described. A tentative method is given in the Appendix in SCA format.

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