Is hair effective for cleaning an oil spill


Why Human Hair? Is it really effective in cleaning oil spill? The goal of this paper is to show whether or not Human hair is an effective material in cleaning an oil spill. We will try answering it by gathering data, facts, videos or any available material that could help us in our study. Human hair as we know it is always available so it is a good thing people consider as one of the options in formulating solution on how to clean oil spills. In some experiments conducted by GREENPEACE, a group in the US, found out that human hair could be useful in cleaning an oil spill.

A salon hairdresser by the name of Phil McCrory, who live in Madison Alabama, upon watching the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. He noticed that an otter’s fur soaked with oil so he wondered if hair could also be used to clean up oil spill. So he grabbed a five pounds of human hair and put it into his wife’s pantyhose and soaked it on his son’s wading pool filled with some oil.

He approached NASA scientists in ALABAMA, and with some scientists, he learned that the human hair did not exactly absorb the oil and instead the oil clings to the thousands tiny scales of hair shafts. Researchers This discovery of him was ready patented on 1995. (Human Hair: A Highly Absorbent Material to Clean Off Oil Spill , 2006) ( Throughout this study I guess we would be successful in obtaining a concrete answer by evaluating the facts we will be accumulating and make sure we have sufficient evidences and proofs for our validation of this research.

Methods A. Research Design The objective of this study is to show or prove that Human Hair is an effective material in cleaning an oil spill through gathering articles, news, videos and the like all relating to this problem. We will also be including facts about Human hair to understand better on why can is used to contained an oil spill. B. Procedures/Facts Collected

1. Cross Section of a Human Hair

Each strand of hair is made up of cortex(found in the middle layer of hair), medulla (innermost region) and cuticle scale(outer covering). The cortex contain “melanin” which give colour to your hair depending on the number or granules of melanin present. The Medulla, which is not always present. The complex structure of cuticle of the hair swells and covered with a single molecular layer of lipid that makes the hair repel water. ( The discovery of a hair

2. Oil Spill-Why is it necessary to clean up? Oil spill is an accidental discharge of petroleum or petroleum products. It could happen either on land or in water. There are several ways for an oil spill to occur. Equipment breaking down or pipes leakage may cause an oil spill. Natural phenomenon such as hurricanes, storms at seas and even tsunamis could also cause an oil tanker or oil facilities to flip over and breakdown, causing to pour out oil.

An oil spill is very harmful to the environment and destroys wildlife in that particular area. Animals likes birds that lives on that area dies because oils pills covering their feather. They will try to clean themselves by taking off oil spills but that would only worsen the scenario causing them to be poisoned and die. Marine animals are greatly affected by oil spill from tiny planktons to whales (ThinkQuest, 2002).

Suffocation cause by oil spills and oil poisoning are among the first group. Because oil floats on top of water, less light penetrates into the water, limiting the photosynthesis of marine plants and phytoplankton. Oil spills reduce oxygen absorption of the water, causing oxygen dissolution under oil spills to be even less than the deep sea levels.

Like in the case of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill brought death to almost 100, 000 to 300,000 seagulls and 3500 to 5000 seals. In Amoco Cadiz oil tanker spill, about 3200 birds from rare species died. Imagine the destruction it could do to our environment. We human, were also greatly affected oil spills both economically and medically.

People will not try to buy marine products because of it and worst is those people who are living near the spills, they’ll caught different ailments. And the alarming part was the long term effect because experts believe that it would take 70 years for marine life to completely restore. ( List of some Oils Spills Accidents where Human Hair is used as cleaning aid. 1. Exxon Valdez Oil spill in Alaska 1989

1.4 million pounds of hair is first used to clean up 11 million galloons of oil spill 2. Oil Spill in San Francisco Bay (May 05, 2010) Hair is used to clean up oil spill. 3. Gulf of Mexico Oil spill (May 10, 2010) Hair and Fur is used to clean up oil spill. 4. Guimaras Oil Spill (August 11, 2006) 5. Cebu dancing inmates donate their hair to create oil spill boom.They will use this to absord oil spill in Cebu ocean. To help fight the spill, the Philippine Coast Guard has appealed for hair and feathers, which have been shown to be highly effective at soaking up oil. ("Philippines asks for hair, feathers to soak oil spill", August 24, 2006 by Leo Solinap)


Based on the actual usage of hair in cleaning different accidental oil spill. There is a relatively high percentage of effectiveness using it. Data collected shows that Hair indeed shows enormous result in cleaning such oil spill. In fact there is a massive campaign of collecting hair for this purpose. There were also organizations like MatterTrust whom suggesting and creating innovative products made of it that could be used in for cleaning such oil spill. MatterTrust also brought out campaign asking for donations of hair for this purpose. GREENPEACE MOVEMENT as well suggest to use it in cleaning oil spill all over the world.

An environment-friendly way of cleaning toxic oil spills. Watching videos on different videos and experiments on hair for cleaning oil spill made us conclude that hair is 100% effective and significantly impressive in cleaning oil spill.


Our research study regarding “Hair as for cleaning oil spill”, have given us a lot of knowledge of such devastating problems. We were able to prove that hair is indeed an effective adsorbent of oil through the data we’ve collected over the week. Reading accounts of different contributors of internet articles and news, we were able to obtain us necessary information such as who discover hair as an effective in cleaning oil spill, along with its scientific basis duly recognized by scientists and actual oil spills accident wherein hair had been used for cleaning it. More than the knowledge we gain from this paper is the realization that we as human are part of the solution of this problems.

The devastating effect of oil spill to the environment especially to the marine ecosystem and to us humans, opened our minds to what we can do to help during this kind of incidents. It created awareness amongst student like me that we too can help even in our small little way. Like for example, donating such hair and information drive on our social media accounts. Or by disseminating what we have learned on this research study to others and tell them and make them believe that he may too can help our planet earth from this oil spill.

Literature Cited