Cheek Cells

Cheek Cells: Are students able to do the cheek cell practical using their own cheek cells?

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Publication Date: 26 May 2016
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Cheek Cells

The answer to this question depends upon your school policy and a risk assessment.

Some school jurisdictions have considered the risks unacceptable and have established policies prohibiting this. Therefore, schools should first find out what their jurisdiction's policy is on this and then follow this policy for their school.

If your school permits using cheek cells for a science activity, schools should carefully evaluate their facilities, the level of staff training, student behaviour management and all the risks associated with handling human tissue. Science ASSIST previously answered this question see Using body fluids in science.

Science ASSIST is aware of the great diversity in science facilities, as well as in staff training in the areas of microbiology and knowledge of infectious diseases. As a result of all of these different factors, Science ASSIST does not recommend the use of human tissue or body fluids in school science practical classes due to the risk of disease transmission.

Science ASSIST recommends the use of alternative activities such as:

  • using commercially prepared microscope slides of cheek cells;
  • using Biosets (photomicrographs) of cells with Bioviewers that are available from various scientific suppliers: See the list of School science suppliers;
  • preparing slides of animal cells from dissection material such as sheep kidneys.

In addition to the previous question, we provide some additional references for consideration.

'8. Biology Laboratory Safety Specifications C. Bloodborne pathogens' Connecticut State Department of Education website. https://portal.ct.gov/SDE/SDE-Redirect (Accessed June 2016)

NSTA. Scope on Safety: Bloodborne pathogens: be prepared-be protected http://static.nsta.org/files/ss0709_76.pdf (2007)

'The Use of Human Body Fluids and Tissue Products in Biology Teaching.' (US) National Association of Biology Teachers website. http://www.nabt.org/Position-Statements-The-Use-of-Human-Body-Fluids-and... (Updated May 2017)

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