Oh, for peat's sake

Maurice Pearson has enough absorbent in his Clinton barn to clean up a 7,500-gallon oil spill.

He isn't expecting an oil barge to leak in the waters off Whidbey Island, but as the president of Bio-Matrix Envirolutions Inc., it's always good to be prepared just in case.

Pearson, a new South Whidbey resident, moved to the island in March to operate his business from his home. He owns the rights to Bio-Matrix Envirolutions Inc., which produces what Pearson hopes will soon be known as the magic solution for oil and other toxic spills.

This week, Pearson explained why his "non-toxic, all natural, 100-percent organic absorbent" works so well.

"I don't think there's anything comparable," he said.

Pearson said he became interested in environmental cleanup after studying the harmful effect of oil and chemicals on nature. His product, he said, utilizes the natural ability of sphagnum moss to soak up toxic liquids. The moss, harvested only in Canada, is dried from 90 to 10 percent water. In its commercial form, the moss looks much like sawdust mulch, and can absorb approximately 10 times its own weight in oil.

The neat thing about the Bio-Matrix product, according to Pearson, is it can sit on water for approximately four days before it absorbs any water. That quality makes certain that the product absorbs the toxins and nothing else. Pearson said whether on land or water, Bio-Matrix can absorb oils, gasoline, paints, coolants, solvents and medical waste, to name a few.

A true believer of his own product, Pearson is always ready to demonstrate it. Pouring himself a cup of water from the faucet into a clear glass in a recent demonstration, he spilled a thick layer of transmission oil in the cup to let it fully contaminate the water. He then applied a small amount of the absorbent to the cup, which quickly pulled the oil out of the water.

To filter the water Pearson used a coffee filter over another clean cup. He poured the whole mess, absorbent, oil and water and all, into the new cup. Pearson then pulled the coffee filter off the cup to show how clear the water was.

When asked if he trusted his own product enough to drink the water -- which had been mixed with enough transmission oil to kill a person -- Pearson smiled and drank the whole glass. He's done the demonstration so many times that he usually drinks the water before he's asked.

What makes Bio-Matrix absorbent more effective than adsorbents is its ability to encapsulate the pollutants, according to Pearson. A traditional adsorbent -- like clay cat litter -- just sticks to oils, he said.

Once the Bio-Matrix has been used, it can be land farmed, disposed of in landfills or incinerated. Pearson said there is no chance of contamination as the humic acid aids the mulch to degrade. The molecular structure of the mulch, he said, keeps contaminated agents inside, and breaks down to the peat moss' original structure -- carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

"Everyone absolutely loves it," said Pearson. "It's an amazing product that's great to have on hand."

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