expectopatronum97
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Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby expectopatronum97 » Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:54 pm

I am interested in doing a project about the best way to clean birds affected by BP's recent oil spill on the coast. I was thinking about using 3 feathers, and dipping them in oil, then cleaning them by using dishwashing liquid, laundry detergent, and hand soap (and a sponge and warm water). However, I have a lot of kinks to work out in this idea.
I don't know where to buy crude oil. I prefer crude oil and not a substitution. It would have to be sold somewhere accessable, and not be too pricey.
Also, the feathers would be a problem. Where could I get duck feathers? Is eBay reliable, or would shipping take too long? Also, how much should I spend on feathers?
Finally, the control group. Should I wash each feather under a certain time limit, or just until I get the feather clean? How much of each kind of soap should I use? And should I use a set amount? Should I do more than one trial?
Do you know how I could measure my results? Would it be possible to make a scale, or chart? Or would it just be observations?
Overall, do you think my idea is doable? Would it be a useful project? This is just an idea, after all. I could talk to my teacher and modify it, if you have any suggestions. And sorry for all the questions, but if you could answer them, it would really help me out.

MelissaB
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Re: Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby MelissaB » Sat Nov 06, 2010 6:05 am

Hi,

I have moved your topic to a more appropriate forum. However, I also have some advice for you:

I think your project is definitely do-able, but I have some reservations. First, DO NOT buy bird feathers off of eBay. It is illegal to possess many birds' feathers, including many species of ducks, unless you have a hunting license! I would suggest going to a craft store and getting chicken feathers. These are cheap, accessible, legal, and will behave the exact same way as duck feathers, etc.

Second, remember that you need to have multiple trials for each treatment, so you should have at least 6 feathers washed with laundry detergent, six with dishwashing liquid, etc. I would set a time limit on washing with each, including the control--it is great that you are thinking about time as a variable!

I think you could make a scale that ranges from 0 to 5 or something, where 0 is completely covered in crude oil and 5 is completely clean. You will have to make sure you are consistent at applying the scale; you might want to take digital pictures along the way to help you out with this.

Two more things: First, I do not think you can purchase crude oil. However, vegetable oil or similar substances will behave similarly. I know you do not want to use a substitute, but I think you will have to. Second, you should also consider the fact that the soaps you are going to be using may be just as toxic to birds as the crude oil! Consider using some environmentally-friendly soaps in your experiment.

Overall, I think this could be a great project--post back if you have any questions.

expectopatronum97
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Re: Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby expectopatronum97 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:45 am

Thanks for the help! But i have one more question. What substitution for crude oil do you think would be the closest? I want to make my experiment as realistic as possible. Thanks again.

MelissaB
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Re: Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby MelissaB » Sun Nov 07, 2010 11:55 am

I would be inclined to use something like motor oil. Be careful, though--motor oil can be dangerous! Make sure you use it in a well-ventilated area, and make sure you wear gloves and eye protection. You might want to have your parents help you out with that step. If motor oil is not a possibility, then I would say that any form of cooking oil should be fine.

Good luck!

HeatherL
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Re: Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby HeatherL » Thu Nov 11, 2010 3:32 pm

You have a very excellent question, and one that is clearly relevant to current events!

As Melissa mentioned, you will need to use a substitute for crude oil in your experiment, but that is okay. Oils act similarly on bird feathers and animal fur, so using a different kind of oil (like motor oil) will still work. One thing to keep in mind is how you will need to dispose of the oil you choose. You cannot wash motor oil down the sink! If you are not able to dispose of your oil properly, you may even consider using vegetable oil.

Here is the citation for a study looking at cleaning of sea otter fur. If you have access to a university library, you can read or photocopy the article.
Williams, T.M., Kastelein, R.A., Davis, R.W., and Thomas, J.A. (1988) The effects of oil contamination and cleaning in sea otters (Enhydra lutris). 1. Thermoregulatory implications based on pelt studies. Canadian Journal of Zoology 66(12): 2776-2781.

Here are links I found on Google Scholar about cleaning bird feathers of oil:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_o ... archtype=a

http://www.jstor.org/pss/3782193

Hope this helps. Good luck!

Heather

expectopatronum97
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Re: Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby expectopatronum97 » Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:52 pm

instead of feathers, i decided to use fur ( rabitt, to be more specific), because i couldnt find feathers anywhere. Im doing 3 trials by soaking 9 squares of fur in motor oil, then cleaning 3 with laundry detergent, 3 w\dishwashing liquid, and 3 w\ hand soap (all biodegradable).im also washing them with water(all the same temperature). for a control im soaking 1 square in motor oil then cleaning it only with water. i have a few questions. after i aply the oil, how long should i leave the oil in for? i dont know what difference it would make if i left it for an hour or a day.
i was was kind of reluctant about using rabitts fur because 1. rabitts arent the animals getting affected by oil slicks and 2. rabitts get killed for their fur, but it was my only option so i had to go w\ that. i gave the people killing them the benifit of the doubt, because they might also be selling the meat, and i dont have a problem with that because killing animals just for fur is wrong.Anyway, id be thankful for the help. :D

HeatherL
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Re: Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby HeatherL » Wed Nov 17, 2010 9:46 pm

Hi there,

It sounds like you're off to a good start. I don't think you need to worry too much about the time you leave the oil on the fur; just make sure it is the same amount of time for all of your samples! I would go with at least one hour.

One thing to keep in mind when using commercially marketed fur is that it may have been treated chemically and/or with tanning, which can change some of the properties of the fur. I don't think it means that you can't use it for your study, but it is definitely something you need to note in your discussion.

You have an excellent point about the fact that rabbits are not the kind of mammals that are exposed to oil spills. A lot of aquatic mammals have special fur that helps to trap air and keep them warm in the water, and that fur is structurally different from rabbit fur. However, you are limited to what you can access, and there are a lot of properties of the fur that are similar enough to make this a worthwhile study. Again, I just think it's important to mention in your discussion that you are aware of some of these factors that you can't control.

Please post again if you have more questions.

Heather

expectopatronum97
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Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:42 pm
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Re: Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby expectopatronum97 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 5:26 pm

Will the results be accurate if i measure the mass of the fur by itself, then with the oil, then after its cleaned with the different detergents ( as data) , even though the fur isnt all the exact size? Or would it be more conveinient just to measure it on a scale of 1-5 or 1-10?

staryl13
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Re: Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby staryl13 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 8:44 pm

Hi!
If you measure the furs first, and then with the oil, then after it is cleaned with detergents and compare the three results with each other, it will not matter that the furs are different sizes. A 1-5 or 1-10 scale would be useful if you could determine a set of criteria that could help you differentiate between, say, a score of 4 versus of 5. These scores would have to take into account the different sizes and be as objective as possible (so preferably, you might want to try and determine the percentage of the fur that is clean or covered in oil). Hope this helps, best of luck!
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -Isaac Asimov

HeatherL
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Re: Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby HeatherL » Thu Dec 02, 2010 12:52 pm

Just keep in mind that water and/or residue from the detergent will also contribute to the mass of the pelt you are measuring. Make sure that the fur is dry when you do your final measurement. It is okay to use a hair dryer - on the "cool" setting - to help dry your fur after washing.

Hope that helps!
Heather

tweeti4234
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Re: Cleaning up Wildlife

Postby tweeti4234 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:37 am

Hi,
Im doing a similar kind of project which requires the use of crude oil. My project is that I am going to use hair, like the one we get from a barber shop, and use to to adsorb oil from water, and then see how much remaining particles are left, to see how effective it is. This would lter on be possibly an effective way to remove oil from the gulf oil spill and such.

I was wondering what type of motor oil you used, because I tried calling a few refineries around me, and they wouldn't let me obtain some for the science fair, and just like you, I want it to be as close to crude oil as possible.

Also I wondered what cites you used, because I have researched, and I couldn't find any (reliable) source for the properties of motor oil.

Thank you so much! :D


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