According to the latest research, cutoffs of human hair are now being used in order to clean up environmental calamities like oil spills, making the process cheaper and more effective.
Australian scientists at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) discovered this process which they found out to be cheap and natural for cleaning up the oil spills instead of using expensive or synthetic products.
Rebecca Pagnucco from UTS said, “There are a lot of different materials that are used in contamination cleanup… a lot of them are synthetic products, particularly things that are made of polypropylene and other types of plastic polymers.”
“There’s recently been a lot of media attention around marine plastic pollution and whether particular types of dispersants is actually doing more harm than good trying to clean up oil sites,” she added.
The short off cuts of human hair found on salon floors generally go to waste. These researchers found out that these hair could rather prove to be beneficial when they are put in use for contamination clean ups due to their characteristics, reports Science Alert.
Pagnucco informed, “Hair is a natural biosorbent. It’s been shown to adsorb 3-9 times its weight in oil. Your hair gets oily and greasy – the oil basically is stuck to the hair fibers. By a similar method, it would stick to other oils, such as crude oil.”
However, researchers in the past have already tried using other natural fibers such as cotton or wool; they didn’t prove to be really beneficial. “Cotton and wool can work very well because they are adsorbent obviously, but they are also quite valued in making textiles and clothing, so there’s already another, more useful demand for them. Whereas with something like hair, there’s no value in it once you’ve cut it off your head, its waste,” expressed Pagnucco.
Another advantage of using hair is that it could be used again and that too multiple times. She said, “Hair can also be reused several times without a significant decrease in its ability to absorb oil.”
Pagnucco believes her research can be useful in more than one ways – cleaning up of dangerous oils and limiting waste as well.
“My research is important because if we continue on the path we’re on, our waste will continue growing and that has a flow-on effect on the whole environment,” she concluded.
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