Environment

CSIR to certify air quality monitoring sensors

Currently, the machines employed by the State and Central Pollution Control Boards are imported and can cost up to ₹1 crore to install and about ₹50 lakh to maintain over five years. File  

The Union Environment Ministry has tasked the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) with certifying air quality monitoring instruments. This is in anticipation of a rising demand by States — against the backdrop of the National Clean Air Campaign — for low cost air quality monitoring instruments that can monitor levels of nitrous oxides, ozone and particulate matter.

“The Central Government hereby designates the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) as national verification agency for certifying instruments and equipments for monitoring emissions and ambient air... CSIR-NPL shall develop necessary infrastructure, management system, testing and certification facilities conforming to international standards,” according to a notification dated August 22.

Vast network

The Centre in January launched a programme to reduce particulate matter (PM) pollution by 20%-30% in at least 102 cities by 2024. An edifice of this initiative is to have a vast monitoring network of sensors that can capture the rapid fluctuations of pollutants, necessary to ascertain how these gases and particles affected health.

Currently, the machines employed by State and Central Pollution Control Boards (SPCB and CPCB) are imported and can cost up to ₹1 crore to install and about ₹50 lakh to maintain over five years, Satchidananda Tripathi, Professor, Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, who works on air quality-related research, told The Hindu. “Several new sensors, which are far cheaper, are likely in the future, and it would be useful to have a creditable agency that can rate the quality of these devices,” he emphasised.

Dinesh Awal, Director, NPL, in an earlier interview with The Hindu had said that several monitoring units were poorly calibrated, that is, over time, they were susceptible to erroneous readings. “This is one of the reasons we need to have a procedure to certify and ensure that instruments are calibrated,” he said. NPL has been in talks with the Environment Ministry and the CPCB for over a year to introduce quality control standards in instrumentation. He could not be contacted for fresh comments.

Delhi’s pollution

Currently, Delhi leads the numbers of cities, with around 35 air quality sensors maintained by the CPCB, and those maintained by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee as well as those by institutions funded by the Union Earth Sciences Ministry.

Over the years, several experts have noted that Delhi’s winter pollution woes, which lead it to being considered as among the most toxic cities in the world, had led to inadequate attention to rising pollution levels in other cities.

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Printable version | Apr 12, 2021 10:32:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/csir-to-certify-air-quality-monitoring-sensors/article29254124.ece

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