Sop up messes and go easy on the environment.
When you work around machinery and tools, you're bound to occasionally spill something. Whether you use professional absorbents in your shop or kitty litter for small spills in the garage, one with no added chemicals is safter for you and the environment.
Chris Whitley is a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency and says you probably have organic materials already on hand that will work just fine for messes such as an oil spill.
"Hay or straw is a good thing, your farm supply or your garden supply store is probably going to have a quantity of peat moss, and peat moss is one of the best things that you can use, actually," he says. "You might also have a supply of corn cobs on hand, depending on what part of the country you're in. Some folks have also been known to use chicken or duck feathers, if that's something that's available."
Volcanic ash, perlite, and vermiculite have also been put to work as absorbent materials, but their uses are limited due to cost and availability.
Whitley says you have to do a bit of prep work to clean up a spill. Don't just dump peat moss or straw into a big puddle.
"You need to try to gather up as much of the oil that has been spilled as you can," says Whitley. "You should do that with a shovel, squeegee, bucket, siphon, and collect it in something. You can generally dispose of that at any number of places. And then you apply the absorbent material, whether that ends up being peat moss, hay, straw, etc. and let it do its thing."
Whitley says the microbes in these materials, especially in peat moss, break down petroleum products. So once the liquid is absorbed, just sweep it up and toss it onto a compost pile. As it breaks down, it will completely dissipate the fuel and oil over time. Contact your local pollution control agency for guidelines.
Radio interview source: Chris Whitley, Spokesman, Environmental Protection Agency
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