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The challenge of air pollution

Here is a piece of startling information, in the form of a BBC report dated April 19, for candidates aspiring to be researchers in air pollution.

“Saharan dust, traffic fumes, and smog from Europe may be clogging up London’s air at present, and causing alarm in the newspapers. But in the world’s most polluted city, London’s air would be considered unusually refreshing. That city is Delhi, the Indian capital, where air quality reports now make essential reading for anxious residents.” The count of PM, carcinogenic particles which penetrate the lungs entering straight into the bloodstream, is a staggering 215 in Delhi. This is nearly 21 times the recommended limit.

Particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM) is made up of “fine” particles, and believed to pose the greatest health risks. Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), they can lodge deeply into the lungs.

Air pollution involves the contamination of air, caused by harmful gases, dust, smoke, and so on. Polluted air leads to serious problems for the healthy survival of plants, animals, including wildlife, and human beings.

Air pollution creates severe respiratory and heart conditions which may prove fatal. Children are most commonly affected, resulting in pneumonia and breathing problems, including asthma. Acid rain, depletion of ozone layer, and global warming are some of the adverse consequences.

Reducing the consumption of energy can bring down the burning of fossil fuels in power generation stations. Encouraging the use of solar and wind power can alleviate the problem to some extent. Promoting public transport can reduce the number of motor vehicles on roads and their exhaust fumes.

An essential factor is strict enforcement of pollution control regulations, which can lessen the damage caused by industrial units. Proper monitoring of the air quality index and enforcement of corrective measures have to be scrupulously carried out by the government.


The SAFAR (System of air pollution monitoring and forecasting) project of the Ministry of Earth Sciences stands recognised by GURME (WMO) as a significant activity.

[GURME (WMO): GAW Urban Research Meteorology and Environment Global Atmosphere Watch (World Meteorological Organisation); GAW: Global Atmosphere Watch]

The system forecasts weather in now-cast and short-range scales over different parts of metropolitan cities and gives weather warnings.

Studying the impact of air pollution on health and agriculture is a vital research activity. Installation of observation networks, wind profilers, radiometers; development of high resolution, dynamic emission inventories of air pollutants; and configuration and operation of high resolution atmospheric chemistry transport forecasting models in metropolitan cities are some of the steps.

Air pollution is an area in which there is scope for scientific research.

Opportunities for studies, research

School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi: M.Sc., M.Phil., PhD (Research on air quality)

Centre for Green Energy Technology, Pondicherry University: PhD in Green Energy Technology

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur: M.Tech.-Environmental Engineering and Management

Jawaharlal Technological University, Hyderabad : M.Tech.- Environmental Management

Sri Ramachandra University, Porur, Chennai, Department of Environmental Health Engineering: Research focus: Air pollution research and exposure assessment; assessment of health damaging air pollutants particularly in indoor and outdoor environment; Development of SOP and validation of protocols for air pollution assessment for integration into large-scale or multicentric studies

* Forest Research Institute (FRI) University, Dehradun: M.Sc. Environment Management

* Applied Environmental Research Foundation, Pune;

* Centre for Environmental Research and Education, Mumbai;

* Clean Air Asia: > Opportunities for studies on air pollution

* Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore: PhD program affiliated to Manipal University

* Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune: Basic research on atmosphere

* National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, New Delhi

* University of Birmingham, UK: PhD in Atmospheric Sciences and Air Pollution

* University of California, Davis, Air Quality Research Center, U.S.: Graduate and research programmes in air quality

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Printable version | Jun 10, 2021 7:48:31 AM |

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