Environment news

Purdue Researchers: Sponges Can Soak Up Contaminants

Apr 5, 2016
Justin Weibel / Purdue University

Purdue University researchers have found a way to separate oil and other contaminants from water using materials you can find around the house. The discovery may lead to way to clean up environmental spills.

The scientists take melamine sponges similar to those found in cleaning pads or insulation then dip them into a solution of silicone rubber and hexane solvent. That creates a thin coating that repels water, and at the same time allows the sponges to absorb materials like oil, hydrocarbons, PCBs and some pesticides.

Tom Gill / https://www.flickr.com/photos/lapstrake/16144565664

Indiana’s Dunes National Lakeshore is helping scientists study the effects of climate change on maple syrup production. The park is the only site in the Midwest to take part in the study.

University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Joshua Rapp says Indiana is an important location for the study. It’s near the western edge of maple trees’ natural range-- which runs from Canada to Virginia, and the Atlantic to the Midwest.

The study looks at the ways a changing climate will affect the chemistry and sugar content of maple sap.

Vincent Parsons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrtickles/

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security is updating their Hazard Mitigation Plan to comply with a new policy from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more commonly known as FEMA. The new plan will include a section on the risks posed by changes in extreme weather patterns.

Indiana’s Hazard Mitigation Plan describes the natural disasters that affect the state and ways communities can lessen their impacts.

Justin Ladia / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jrladia/

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources received more this year in their annual grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The extra money will be used for special, one-time projects.


Indiana’s share of the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program comes to $16.5 million this year, $2 million more than last. Chief Fiscal Administrator for the Division of Fish and Wildlife Julie Kempf says the program is critical, even though not many people know about it.

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

A bill that mandated new environmental regulations could not exceed federal standards is headed to the governor’s desk. It heads there only after significant changes.

The Senate passed the so-called "No More Stringent Than" bill, House Bill 1082, after significant amendments. The bill now only requires the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, or IDEM, to report proposed changes for legislative review.

Senate sponsor Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) led the bill’s overhaul.

Maycomb Paynes / https://www.flickr.com/photos/24730945@N03/

House lawmakers approved a bill Monday that regulates Indiana’s high-fenced deer hunting preserves, sending the measure to the governor. That comes more than a decade after the legislature first began working on the issue.

The state tried to shut down high-fenced hunting preserves more than 10 years ago.  A court battle finally ended last year with a ruling that said the state couldn’t regulate the facilities at all, under current law. 

Wabash River Enhancement Corp.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit says it will review a legal challenge that Indiana and 17 other states filed against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Waters of the U.S." rule.

huntingdesigns / https://www.flickr.com/photos/huntingdesigns/

Legislation imposing rules and restrictions on Indiana’s high-fenced deer hunting facilities looks likely to pass through the House. But, industry opponents are still lobbying for stricter language.

Environmental and conservation organizations have long opposed high-fenced deer hunting, an industry left unregulated by the courts last year.

The likelihood of the General Assembly banning the industry outright this session is essentially zero, but the opposition groups hope to strengthen proposed rules and restrictions.

Randy McRoberts / https://www.flickr.com/photos/rmcrob/

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ newly-revised strategic forestry plan doesn’t include any significant changes to the amount of timber cut by the Indiana agency, but does include plans to make forests more accessible to Hoosiers looking to pitch a tent or explore a cave.

Alan Berning / https://www.flickr.com/photos/14617207@N00/2621375759

Coal industry representatives in Indiana, one of the nation’s top coal-producing states, say the Supreme Court’s stay of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan has little immediate effect on the state.

By many accounts, utility companies haven’t been scrambling to comply with the proposed regulations, which would require Indiana to create a plan to reduce its carbon emissions by more than one-third over 15 years.

The stay lets states off the hook until the Supreme Court has its say on the plan.