Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Human hair to tackle oil spill

Human hair and fur stuffed in tights is the new contraption to tackle the oil spewing from BP's ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico. Hair possesses a unique characteristic which means that oil clings to the many tiny scales on each strand.

"Each follicle [strand] of hair has an enormous amount of surface area. It's not soaking up the oil, it's not blowing up like a sponge - the oil is coating the outside," says Lisa Gautier, founder of the ecological charity Matter of Trust, which runs an international Hair for Oil Spills programme to collect off-cuts from hair salons and pet groomers, sheep farmers and individuals.

The technique has been tested and approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. It was used in past disasters, such as 2007's Cosco Busan oil spill in San Francisco Bay and in the Philippines in 2006.


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