Inmates go bald, donate hair for oil spill cleanup, but…

August 29, 2006

SOME 3,400 inmates in Quezon City Jail agreed to cut their hair Tuesday and donate it to clean up the oil spill off Guimaras island, TV Patrol World reported Tuesday.

But an Iloilo-based environmental group said using hair and feathers to clean up the oil slick might not be such a good idea after all.

Melvin Purzuelo of the Save Our Seas Movement said using hair and feather in the oil spill booms could do more harm than good for the environment.

“Chicken feathers smell bad. We need to reduce the smell so we can use these feathers otherwise we’ll just add to the bunker oil fumes,” Purzuelo said.

Hair would take very long time to decompose, not to mention the chemical treatments made before these were cut that could affect other life forms like seagrasses and mangroves, he added.

“With no less than President [Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] pitching for the gathering of hairs, we expect these coming in very huge volumes soon,” Purzuelo said.

The Save Our Seas Movement is calling on technologists, scientists and engineers to provide practical solutions and operational support for the community-based clean-up and rehabilitation activities of the oil spill triggered by the sinking MT Solar 1 off the coast of Guimaras.

Locally available absorbent materials like rice straws, corn cobs, jute sacks, and saw dusts have been used as indigenous oil spill booms to contain and collect oil from the Guimaras shores and the towns of Ajuy and Concepcion in Northern Iloilo, said Purzuelo.

At the Quezon City jail, warden Col. Ignacio Panti said the inmates willingly agreed to shave off their hair Tuesday afternoon.

Hundreds of inmates at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa also joined the campaign and cut off their hair.

Two inmates, Ricardo Perlos and Jun Estacio, said they agreed to go bald as a way of thanking the government for abolishing the death penalty.

“In a way, donating my hair to help the environment lessens my sins,” Estacio said.

Serafin Barretto, chief of the Bureau of Jail Managemnent and Penology in the capital, urged other jail wardens to encourage inmates in Metro Manila to do the same thing.

Environmental group Greenpeace earlier said hair, rice straw and corncobs could be used as makeshift booms to absorb the oil.

(From ABS-CBN News and INQ7.net, Aug. 29, 2006.)



  1. Mr. Purzuelo should have thought about what he said before he said it. Your talking about the hazards of cleaning up an OIL SPILL with hair because the HAIR could hurt the environment? Are you joking me?

  2. Chase, I believe it was Greenpeace (the irony, the irony!) which said that hair is the best for the oil spill cleanup based on studies that have been made in the past. Unfortunately, when you are in an emergency situation, as was the oil spill, there is intense pressure to act fast so the oil wouldn’t contaminate more areas. This is why the call for people to donate hair was made. When other studies were put forward saying that this wasn’t a good idea, as Mr. Purzuelo had, then the word was put out to donate biodegradable materials instead.

    Thanks for visiting the blog.

  3. So….can we still donate hair? If so, where? I think when there are no substitutes for hair and its potential will he use it? How harmful can hair be?

  4. Viagnette pls refer to the previous answer.

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