Polyacrylamide (PAM) is a polymer formed from acrylamide units, and acrylamide is a known neurotoxin. However, according to Wikipedia, polyacrylamide is not considered toxic but is a controversial ingredient due to its potential ability to secrete acrylamide. It is used in cosmetics and beauty products in two different forms, a highly absorbent soft gel in a cross-linked form and a thickener and suspension agent in a straight-chain form. Recently, it has also been used as an active ingredient in the dermal wrinkle filler Aquamid.
Polyacrylamide is an ingredient in various cosmetic and beauty products, including skin cleansers, moisturizers, lotions and creams, tanning products, cosmetics, and hair and nail care products. In skin, hair, or nails, it forms a thin coating when dried; in hair care products, it helps hair retain its style by inhibiting its ability to absorb water; in makeup products, it holds together the ingredients of a pressed tablet or cake; and in sunscreen products, it helps retain the sunscreen on the skin after immersion in water. Small polyacrylamide beads are also used as abrasives in skin cleansing products.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows polyacrylamide (less than 0.2% acrylamide monomer) to be used as a film-forming agent in the imprinting of soft-shell gelatin capsules.
The Cosmetic Database considers polyacrylamide to be a moderately hazardous ingredient and points out several issues, including neurotoxicity, organ system toxicity, and data gaps. The biggest warnings about using polyacrylamide are contamination and the presence of acrylamide, a known toxin.
Due to carcinogenicity, developmental and reproductive toxicity, allergic reactions, organ system toxicity, neurotoxicity, skin and eye irritation, endocrine disruption, and biohazards, acrylamide is rated a high-risk ingredient by the EWG with a score of 10, the highest possible level. According to the study, polyacrylamide has been approved by the FDA and CIR. Still, to protect consumers, the CIR panel limited the amount of acrylamide that could be present in any product. It established an upper limit of 5 ppm for acrylamide residues in cosmetics and personal care products.
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