group of men cleaning oil spillOil is one of the most important and necessary chemical substances in the world as it fuels transportation vehicles and can be converted into electricity.

However, it cannot be extracted from just anywhere. That is why long-distance oil transportation is needed. Oil transport can be done via pipelines, rails, or 18-wheeler trucks. During truck transportation, though, there is a risk of highway oil spillage. Even in uninhabited areas like the deserts of Chihuahua or Utah, hazardous oil spill materials can still cause serious problems as the chemicals pollute the air. Meanwhile, international oil transport is done via tank barges. These ships contain large amounts of oil which can cause alarming environmental concerns in the event of oil spillage.

In such cases, firms providing oil spill clean-up services should be contacted immediately. Oil-spill clean-up experts are aware of the various methods to get the job done, and which one would be best suited to specific situations.

During the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, for instance, among the methods used to address the problem was the application of dispersants, which break down oil so it can mix more easily with water.

Surprisingly, human hair can also be an option in cleaning up oil spillage.

Human Hair is Naturally Oil-Adsorbent

For cleaning oil spills, the collected human hair is put in nylon casing – usually nylon stockings – to create hair booms. Human hair works because it is naturally hydrophobic and adsorbent.

– Hydrophobic: The outer layer of human hair is made of hydrophobic lipid epicuticle, which means it resists the penetration of water.

– Adsorbent: Human hair is a natural oil adsorbent. Unlike other adsorbents, human hair does not soak up oil; instead, it is coated with oil. The property of adsorption is not to be confused with absorption, which means a substance is able to soak up liquid or gas into it.

Human Hair is A Sustainable Option

There is a sustainable supply of human hair as it can regrow. Many hair salons around the world are now donating human hair, instead of disposing of them in landfills. Human hair is a more economical option, too, because it has significantly less commercial value than wool and cotton, which are also used in resolving oil spill problems.

Oil spillage causes serious environmental issues that endanger the aquatic ecosystem and the public health. This is why oil companies should partner with oil spill clean-up firms so that in the case of an accident, the situation is immediately contained. Ordinary people can also help by donating their chopped-off hair through the right channels.