Genetics: Looking at ordering some PTC papers and a MSDS is not supplied with the papers. Are we still allowed to purchase them and do the experiment? Many thanks.

No votes yet
Publication Date: 03 September 2014
Asked By: Anonymous
Showing 1-1 of 1 Responses

Answer by labsupport on question Answer by labsupport on question Answer by labsupport on question Genetics

An SDS is available for PTC papers:

It is very important, as you are doing, to ensure the suitability of products prior to purchase by consulting the Safety Data Sheet in order to do a risk assessment. You will see that Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), also known as Phenylthiourea is highly toxic and swallowing the pure chemical can be fatal.  However PTC papers contain a very low dose of PTC. This product is used in genetics studies to see if students can taste the PTC.  A difficulty with this is that non-tasters may seek to try additional pieces of the PTC impregnated paper to see if they can taste the chemical., An information sheet has been provided by a supplier of these PTC papers see:

Science ASSIST strongly advises against the making of PTC papers due the extreme risks associated with the pure chemical. Science ASSIST will be seeking further expert advice regarding the suitability of the PTC papers for use in schools and will publish this advice as soon as it becomes available to us.

Schools that are considering using PTC papers should conduct their own risk assessment for each class to determine whether or not to use PTC papers. They should check with their own jurisdiction to see if they are permitted to use them, as some jurisdictions have banned them from use or have limited the quantity per student. Teachers choosing to conduct this activity should closely supervise and restrict the distribution of 1 test paper/student.

Pending further advice, Science ASSIST recommends that schools consider the use of genetics test papers that use much safer chemicals such as sodium benzoate.  As with PTC, this also demonstrates the link between genetic makeup and taste capacity.  We would also refer you to the availability of other simply observed genetic traits such as ear lobe attachment, widow’s peak hairline, and tongue rolling, pigmented iris of the eye, naturally curly or straight hair, hand clasping and dimples. See

Thank you for submitting an answer to this question. Your response has been sent to our administration team for moderation.