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Polyacrylamide is a polymer (-CH2CHCONH2-) formed from acrylamide subunits that can also be readily cross-linked. Acrylamide needs to be handled using good laboratory practices (GLP) to avoid poisonous exposure since it is a neurotoxin. Polyacrylamide is not toxic, but unpolymerized acrylamide can be present in the polymerized acrylamide. Therefore it is recommended to handle it with caution. In the cross-linked form, it is highly water-absorbent, forming a soft gel used in such applications as polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and in manufacturing soft contact lenses. In the straight-chain form, it is also used as a thickener and suspending agent. More recently, it has been used as a subdermal filler for aesthetic facial surgery (see Aquamid).

It has also been advertised as a soil conditioner called Krilium by Monsanto in the 1950s and today "MP", which is stated to be a "unique formulation of PAM (water-soluble polyacrylamide)". The anionic form of polyacrylamide is frequently used as a soil conditioner on farmland and construction sites for erosion control.

The polymer is also used to make Gro-Beast toys, which expand when placed in water, as the Test Tube Aliens.

The non-ionic form of Polyacrylamide has found an important role in the potable water treatment industry. Trivalent metal salts like ferric chloride and aluminum chloride are bridged by the long polymer chains of polyacrylamide. This results in significant enhancement of the flocculation rate. This allows water treatment plants to greately improve the removal of total organic content (TOC) from raw water.

Some research[1] indicates that polyacrylamide can degrade under normal environmental conditions, releasing acrylamide, a known nerve toxin.

See also

  • Sodium polyacrylate, a similar material
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Polyacrylamide". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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