Shaving the pooch and getting a trim is helping to clean up the Gulf oil spill. I also heard this in a quick mention on NBC Nightly News.
It was like any other visit to Mendez’s shop, Pet Pals Grooming Salon, 2355 Meachem St., except this time the clumps of fur that fell from the 1-year-old black toy poodle weren’t destined for the trash.
Mendez, 38, collected BuBu’s fur and added it to a small, but growing pile accumulating in a blue trash bag hanging from a cart in her tiny salon.
Once she’s collected enough fur, Mendez plans to ship it to a California-based non-profit environmental organization, Matter of Trust, which is collecting hair, both human and non-human, to help with clean-up efforts along the Gulf Coast following the massive oil spill.
That’s right. Hair and fur are used to help clean up oil spills. Mendez doesn’t claim to be an expert, but from her experience, she understands the science behind the concept.
The hair, I guess it just soaks up oil, which makes sense. When I get these dogs some of them are pretty greasy and oily,” Mendez said. “Cat hair should be even better because it really collects oil and grease.”
She has an abundance of hair. So she figured, why not do it? The majority of Mendez’s clients are dogs. She trims fur from as many as 30 dogs each week. Mendez works on fewer cats, 3 to 4 each week.
Mendez learned about the effort from a dog grooming Web site, where another groomer had posted a link to Matter of Trust’s Web site, http://www.matteroftrust.org.
The Web site includes a video clip that explains the process. Hair and fur are stuffed into recycled nylon stockings called booms, which are then laid in the water to absorb the oil.
From environmental website mongabay.com:
The hair-as-an-oil-absorbent concept was first popularized in 1989 when Phillip McCrory, a Madison, Alabama hairdresser, experimented with human hair as an oil sponge after watching volunteers on TV attempt to clean oil from the fur of sea otters following the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He filled an old pair nylon stockings with five pounds of hair and used them to soak up a mock oil spill he created in his son’s plastic pool. After seeing the results — the water was clear within minutes — McCrory approached NASA scientists at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The researchers soon began experimenting with hair. In one test, described by Ned Rozell of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, they filtered filled 40 gallons of water and 15 gallons of oil though nylon bags of hair to find the hair but the oil concentration to just 17 parts of oil per million parts of water or about two drops of oil for the 55-gallon drum.
At the time, McCrory estimated that 1.4 million pounds of hair could have soaked up the 11 million gallons of oil leaked by the Exxon Valdez. He has worked further with NASA to develop new hair-based ways to soak up oil.
Hair and feathers were used as a low-cost oil “absorbent” during a massive spill in the Philippines in 2006. Traditionally, booms, skimmers, chemical dispersants, and biological agents are used methods to clean up ocean oil.
Time for a trim!