The amounts of monomeric and polymeric methyl and ethyl acrylates that may migrate to foods from paper and paperboard used in food packaging are limited by regulation. Measurements made under severest conditions of extraction, show that human exposure to these substances from food packaged in materials containing them is less than 1 mg per kg body weight per day, and is probably considerably less than this figure under usual conditions.
While it has been shown that both monomers are absorbed from the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts and from the skin, no absortion studies of the polymers have been made and the metabolic fate of the monomers and polymers has not been elucidated. However, no adverse effects have been observed and no pathological changes encountered in animals consuming up to 23 mg per kg of the methyl monomer for 33 days, or up to 280mg per kg of the ethyl monomer for two years.
Polyethyl acrylate, but not polymethyl acrylate, has been fed for eight weeks at dose of 5.5g per kg body weight and a formulation containing both polyethyl acrylate and polymethacrylate has been fed for six months at a dose of 2.5 g per kg body weight without appearance of toxic or pathological effects.
The biological data on the monomers and on polyethyl acrylate, when related to estimates of human exposure that might occur due to migration of these substances from packaging materials, raise no concern about the safety of current practices. However, no biological studies upon which evaluation of the methyl polymer can be based have been reported.
In light of these considerations, the Select Committee concludes that: There is no evidence in the available information on monomeric ethyl acrylate, monomeric methyl acrylate, or polymeric ethyl acrylate that demonstrates or suggests reasonable grounds to suspect, a hazard to the public when they are used in paper and paperboard food packaging materials as now practiced, or as they might be expexted to be used for such purposes in the future.
In view of the deficiency of relevant biological studies, the Select Committee has insufficient data upon which to base an evaluation of polymeric methyl acrylate when it is used as an ingredient of food packaging materials.