HELP: Phenylthiourea (PTU) safety

Krzysztof Wasowicz wasowicz at
Mon Mar 26 10:29:58 EST 2001

I have a question about safety of phenylthiocarbamide
(phenylthiourea). In fifties and sixties it was widely used in
population genetic studies as some people did and some didn't sense
its bitter taste (apparently due to genetic variation). I would like
to do this experiments with my students but after having read the MSDS
for PTU (from Sigma) I am reluctant. They say it is highly toxic,
albeit they admit the toxicity was not studied in details.
Nevertheless it was widely used before. Does anyone know how dangerous
it is really. Sigma claims that sucrose and sodium chloride should be
handled in fume hood with heavy gloves, eye protection, etc. (see MSDS
for the substances). Unfortunately I don't have access to RTECS. I
would be not so concerned if it was only me who would taste this
substance, but administering it to students may be risky from legal
point of view. Any help will be appreciated. Please, e-mail me.

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