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Health Effects of Perlite

The following statement was prepared by the Perlite Institute to summarize their work regarding the health aspects of perlite.

For several decades there has been an ever increasing awareness about the long and short term health and safety effects of products used routinely in our daily lives.  In response to this awareness, most responsible companies today test or continue to test their products to determine what, if any, health and safety effects may be associated with them.


Perlite has been mined, processed, and used in a variety of applications for over 50 years without any hint of adverse health effects.  Perlite is used, with government approval, as a filteraid for water purification and for the clarification of foods, wines, and other beverages; as an anti-caking agent; and, for use in processing, transporting, or in storage areas for direct contact with meat or poultry food food products prepared under federal inspection.  Perlite is also used as a horticultural aggregate in potting soil, as a lightweight material for concrete, and as a filler in construction products.

Through the work of the Perlite Institute, an international trade organization organized in 1949 of perlite mining and processing companies, the perlite industry has been at the forefront in examining any potential health effects that may be associated with perlite and perlite products.

Perlite has been tested often, and information about perlite has been gathered by a number of scientific and government groups.   Significantly, no test result or information indicates that perlite poses any health risk.  Indeed, the uniform result of all the studies and information gathering, points forcefully to the conclusion that perlite is not hazardous.

For example, the Perlite Institute has conducted several worker health studies, the first two published by Dr. Clarke Cooper (1975 and 1976), the third published by Cooper and Sargent in 1986, and a fourth and fifth (unpublished) by Dr. Hans Weill (Tulane University) in 1990 and 1994.  It is particularly noteworthy that all of the above studies uniformly support the conclusion that perlite poses no significant respiratory health risk to workers or to consumers.  In the most recent study (1994), Dr. Weill concluded that the workers were free of any measurable adverse respiratory effects of perlite exposure.

Perlite has been characterized as a nuisance or or inert dust.  Exposure to such dusts can sometimes result in temporary physical irritation, discomfort, impaired visibility, and enhancement of accidental potential, but not to health impairment.

Such results should be reassuring to the general public, and further point to the on-going commitment made by perlite manufacturers to take a responsible position regarding the products that they sell.

For more information, please contact the Perlite Institute


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