Hair used to clean up oil spill

Filipinos are shearing their hair to help mop up a massive oil spill off Guimaras Island. Bags of hair, chicken feathers, and straw is being stuffed into permeable bags to contain the oil. Hair salons and prison inmates are all making big contributions. The idea was first proposed in 1989 by an Alabama hairdresser who, after seeing an otter's oil-soaked hair during coverage of the Exxon Valdez spill, "collected five pounds of hair from his shop, stuffed it in a pair of his wife's pantyhose, tied the feet together into a ring and put it in his son's wading pool with some oil." From the Associated Press:

However, marine biologist Rex Sadaba of the University of the Philippines Visayas isn't sold on using hair or chicken feathers, and says abundant materials such as straw may be better.

Sadaba said hair takes time to degrade, does not really absorb oil and may not be hygienic.

"I also don't agree with using feathers, because it stinks when it rots, and that will cause additional problems," he said.