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Gulf oil spill: Hair of dogs to tackle oil

May 7, 2010 | 12:56 pm

Doghair
Nearly 1,000 grooming salons in Petco stores began shipping donations of pet fur Friday to aid in creating booms to soak up oil from the Gulf of Mexico.

The company said it expects to ship up to a ton of donated fur daily. Already, 450,000 pounds have been shipped to the gulf area, where Coast Guard officials say they have not yet used the material.

Petco joins a growing cohort  of salons, pet groomers and farmers shipping hair to the Gulf of Mexico. They are all part of a network created by Matter of Trust, a nonprofit environmental group. The group first garnered attention when it helped with the 2007 San Francisco oil spill. 

It's hard to say who first thought of using hair to sop up an oil spill, but Matter of Trust attributes it to hairdresser Phil McCrory, who first experimented with hair and oil after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. The story is laid out in a YouTube video.

Richard Ambrose, a UCLA professor of environmental health science, said he's never heard of hair being used to clean up oil.

"As long as it's cost effective and it works well, then it seems great," he said.

Petco hopes to reach 5 tons of donations through Mother’s Day weekend.

--Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: Brenda Mendez grooms a poodle in her Racine, Wis., shop on Tuesday. She is donating pet hair to an ecological charity that intends to use it to help sop up the oil spill. Credit: Scott Anderson/Associated Press
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