IIT-B, Washington University researchers to monitor air pollution effects in Mumbai

IIT-B, Washington University researchers to monitor air pollution effects in Mumbai
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MUMBAI: As a part of the collaboration between Washington University in the United States of America and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B), researchers from the former will bring in advanced air quality and health monitoring equipment to Mumbai and study effects of air pollution along with the researchers from IIT-B. A new research facility for this, the Aerosol Air Quality Research Laboratory, was inaugurated in the IIT-B campus at the Environment Science and Engineering (ESE) department. Researchers from IIT-B will work with McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University. The two institutes also launched a new joint master’s degree programme.

Using devices like portable electrocardiogram monitors, real-time air quality monitoring through wearable mobile sensors, and detailed spatial data using satellite maps, the researchers will study real-time health impact due to air pollution. Sudhir Srivastava, Chairman, Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) said, “We are happy to collaborate with the Washington University. Exact details of the project are yet to be worked out.” The project of collaboration is currently at the proposal stage before the MPCB.

Pratim Biswas, the Lucy and Stanley Lopata, Professor in the McKelvey School of Engineering, “Research of this kind is critically-important for India as there are complex problems and solutions that can’t be developed individually.” He further said, “Capacity building is needed, and for this we will bring high-tech instrumentation for fundamental research in aerosol science and engineering, which has never come to India before. There are over 2 lakh such instruments in China but India currently has a few 100.”

Biswas and his team, while working with the Government of Delhi, have already developed similar instruments which will give the government real-time detection of sources. “New equipment will be brought to Mumbai for on-ground air quality monitoring, identifying sources, and overall high resolution satellite mapping within the next six months,” said Biswas.

Meanwhile, under the National Clean Air Program, IIT-B has already collected samples of particulate matter pollutants (PM2.5 and PM10) for 10 of the 18 non-attainment cities (including Mumbai) for identifying sources, as mandated by MPCB. The samples, which were collected from five locations in each city using four samplers (two each for PM10 and PM2.5), have been kept in the new lab.

The final report will be submitted to MPCB by December 2020.

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