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  • This is the Guimaras oil spill of 2006 and it's the worst of its kind in the Philippine's history.

  • More than 130 thousand gallons of bunker oil gushed into the Panay Gulf.

  • In an attempt to contain the spill locals turn to an unconventional method:

  • these freaky-looking sausage things aren't all filled with synthetic materials fabricated in a lab.

  • It's also organic stuff you can find on most continents and probably in your shower drain.

  • It's human hair.

  • After the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, Phil McCroy, a hair stylist in Alabama, had a novel idea for the cleanup effort.

  • On TV, he noticed how a sea otter's fur had become saturated with oil and thought if that's what oil would do to an otter's fur, then the same must be true for human hair.

  • He took scraps of hair trimmings from work, stuffed them into his wife's pantyhose and tested his new invention in a small spill he created at his house.

  • NASA studied and confirmed Phil's invention worked.

  • I called every hair stylist in Alabama 'til I found him.

  • He said that his garage was full of hair being donated from salons all over the place,

  • but he'd never been able to make a business out of it, and so from like about 2000, 2001 we were partners.

  • They teamed up on the Clean Wave program. It collects donated hair, fur, feathers, and other fibers to make recycled felted mats and hair booms that can mop up oil spills.

  • Turns out hair is pretty good at cleaning up oil.

  • It repels water and can collect contaminants.

  • Water goes into a sponge and it blows up and that's called absorbent, but oil coats hair on the outside, so like it's called adsorbent.

  • Hair is also natural, cheap, and renewable which makes it an ideal material for cleaning up oil spills.

  • Making a hair boom is pretty straightforward.

  • All you need is human hair and pantyhose.

  • Take the hair, stuff it into the hose, and voilà.

  • After getting over the freaky feeling of handling someone else's clumped up hair, place it into contaminated water and watch the hair boom do its thing.

  • There's little diesel spills all the time, so like every little harbor can use that stuff.

  • You know, it was a great way to just kind of string from dock to dock and kind of protect your private beaches.

  • But hair booms and hair mats haven't been the principal method to clean major oil spills.

  • They weren't used extensively in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill where over the course of 87 days 134 million gallons of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Instead, crews used 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersants, oil skimmers, fire, and booms and barriers made of synthetic material to clean up the mess.

  • With oil spills, time is of the essence.

  • The longer oil is in the ocean the harder it is to retrieve.

  • The immediate ecological impact of oil spills is obvious.

  • It kills marine wildlife and destroys habitats and breeding grounds.

  • The chemicals used to clean up oil spills also pose a danger to human health.

  • As of now, hair booms and hair mats are not the primary tools used to contain oil spills, but possibly one day they could be.

  • It was very interesting for us to see the public desire to help.

  • There's so many hair salons in every city and billions more people with hair to spare.

  • So, it's not out of he realm of possibilities that help for the next oil spill maybe just one snip away.

This is the Guimaras oil spill of 2006 and it's the worst of its kind in the Philippine's history.

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    Evangeline posted on 2021/03/21
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