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Acrylic acid or prop-2-enoic acid is a chemical compound (formula C3H4O2) and it is the simplest unsaturated carboxylic acid with a vinyl group at the α-carbon position and a carboxylic acid terminus. In its pure form, acrylic acid is a clear, colorless liquid with a characteristic acrid odor. It is miscible with water, alcohols, ethers and chloroform. Acrylic acid is produced from propene, a gaseous product of oil refineries.
Acrylic acid undergoes the typical reactions of a carboxylic acid and, when reacted with an alcohol, it will form the corresponding ester. The esters and salts of acrylic acid are collectively known as acrylates (or propenoates). The most common alkyl esters of acrylic acid are methyl-, butyl-, ethyl- and 2-ethylhexyl-acrylate.
Acrylic acid and its esters readily combine with themselves or other monomers (e.g amides, acrylonitrile, vinyl, styrene and butadiene) by reacting at their double bond, forming homopolymers or copolymers which are used in the manufacture of various plastics, coatings, adhesives, elastomers as well as floor polishes and paints.
Acrylic acid is severely irritating and corrosive to the skin. Eye contact can result in severe corneal burns and may result in irreversible injury. Inhalation of vapors may cause irritation to the respiratory tract, drowsiness or headache, although simply smelling the monomers does not mean you are being exposed to a hazard (air monitoring is necessary to determine exposure). The odor is described as pungent and acrid. Low exposure will cause minimal or no health effects, while high exposure could result in pulmonary edema.