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NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING RESEARCH
NEERI Chennai Zonal Laboratory, one of the
six Zonal Laboratories of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute,
Nagpur, has been a trail-blazer to the industries in the States of Tamil Nadu,
Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry, ever since its inception in 1969. The Zonal
Laboratory follows the footsteps of the parent organisation in its commitment towards
the national and societal missions and CSIR thrust area activities. In its 34 years of
existence this Unit has made significant contributions in such thrust areas of R&D as
environmental monitoring, environmental biotechnology, toxic waste management,
environmental systems design, environmental impact & risk assessment and
The broad objectives of the laboratory are:
1. To conduct research and developmental studies in the area of environmental science and
2. To render assistance to the industries of the region, local bodies, etc. in solving the
problems of environmental pollution.
3. To interact and collaborate with academic and research institutions on environmental
science and engineering for mutual benefit
4. To provide guidance for research scholars for their doctoral studies as the Unit is
recognised by University of Madras and Anna University.
NEERI Chennai Zonal Laboratory has played an important role in solving some of the most
critical problems of pollution in the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and
Pondicherry. Projects of International status funded by such agencies as WHO, World Bank
and the US Government have been undertaken by the Zonal Laboratory. The Zonal
Laboratory has designed wastewater treatment and disposal facilities for a variety of
industries like tanneries, pulp and paper, textiles, chemicals and fertilizers, food, sugar and
distillery, etc. The Laboratory has carried out Environmental Impact Assessment studies for
a number of proposed industrial projects and expansion schemes. The laboratory has been
monitoring the ambient air quality of Chennai City since 1978 by installing air samplers at
three zones of activity viz. Industrial, Commercial and Residential.
Some of the recent noteworthy contributions of the centre to the cause of environmental
protection are listed below:
Environmental Impact Assessment
- Sethu Samudram Ship Canal Project
- REIA for M/s.Hyundai Motors, near Chennai
- REIA for M/s. Sundram Fasteners, Pondicherry
- CEIA for Nuclear Power Plant, Kudankulam
- REIA for Proposed Marine Biopark, TIDCO
Environmental Management Plan
- EMP for Kanchipuram, Dir. of Environment, TN
- National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring at Chennai
- Surveillance of Drinking Water Quality in Chennai, Coimbatore & Bangalore
- Impact of On-Site Sanitation on Surface and Groundwater Sources in Chennai and
- EQA of M/s.Sundram Fasteners, Krishnapuram
- EQA of Gem Stone Beach Resort, Muttukadu
- Study of Soil & Groundwater Pollution in Pondicherry Region
- Hydrochemical Study of Groundwater in Pondicherry & Karaikal Regions
- EQA of M/s. Chemfab Alkalis Ltd., Pondicherry
Water Quality Management
- Development and Validation of Water Quality Index in India-Study at
Tiruchirappalli and Kurnool
Wastewater and Hazardous Waste Management
- Wastewater Disposal Options for Port Blair
- Wastewater Management in Tanneries in TN
- Wastewater Management in TN Distilleries
- Wastewater Management in Chennai Port - Design of Sewage Treatment Plant based on
Aerobic Biological Fluidized Bed Reactor Technology
- Characterisation of STP based on FAB, Thermax, Pune
- Solidification and Stabilisation of Electroplating Sludges
Environmental Microbiology/ Biotechnology
- Study of Water Quality Surveillance in Tamil Nadu - Sponsored by Hindustan Lever
- Assessment of Virological Quality of Drinking Water in the Water Supply and Distribution
System Network of
Goa Region - Sponsored by PWD Goa.
- Biotechnological Decolourization and Treatment of Textile Wastewater-Perspective for the
New Millennium -
sponsored by the Department of Biotechnology, Govt. of India, New Delhi
- Concentration & Detection of HEV in Marine Environment and Sea Food through PCR and
Gene Probe - DBT,
Govt. of India, New Delhi
- Decolourization and Biodegradation of Azodye Industry Wastewater - DBT, Govt. of India,
- Bacteriological & Virological Quality of Irrigation Schemes in TN - sponsored by Anna
NEERI Chennai Zonal Laboratory has also conducted number of seminars and workshops
connected with current international problems. This centre is recognised for carrying out
research work for both Master's and Doctoral Degrees. So far 11 Research Scholars have
obtained Doctoral degree and more than hundred students have done their project work for
the award of M.Sc./ M.Tech/M.Phil Degree in Environmental Engineering/Science.
NEERI Chennai Zonal laboratory has pioneered in the Research & Development needs of
the industries, Govt. Agencies and Departments for the past three decades and has
progressive plans for the future. The services for both advice and action are always
available through consultancy and sponsored research work.
NEERI CHENNAI ZONAL LABORATORY CAN BE REFERRED FOR ANY PROBLEM OF
SOME NOTEWORTHY CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE LABORATORY ARE OUTLINED
Duplex Reverse Transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) for Simultaneous Detection of
Hepatitis A and E Viruses Isolated from Drinking Water Samples
Epidemic outbreaks of infectious hepatitis in developing countries have been associated with
waterborne transmission of Hepatitis A and E viruses. The lack of standard and reliable
technique for concentration and isolation of viruses from environmental samples has
impeded the inclusion of viruses in water quality surveillance programmes.
The sensitivity of Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) based Urea-Arginine Phosphate Buffer
(UAPB) protocol developed at the Institute encouraged its application in development of
Duplex RT-PCR to detect Hepatitis A and E viruses isolated from water samples.
HAV and HEV were concentrated from water samples through one step concentration
protocol. Two different sets of primers, specific for HAV and HEV cDNA, were used for PCR
amplification. Amplified DNA products, representing Hepatitis A and E viruses, were
identified by gel electrophoresis at 225 and 343 bp sequences, respectively. Specific sets of
primers amplified a single virus and no cross reactivity of the primers was noted in Duplex
The protocol was used for direct isolation and detection of HAV and HEV from 23 water
samples drawn from urban areas in Chennai. Nine water samples were positive for HAV, and
three for HEV. All three samples positive for HEV were also positive for HAV. The protocol
provides a rapid and economical means of water quality monitoring in detec tion of Hepatitis
A and E viruses in a single reaction.
Decolourization and Biodegradation of Azodye Industry Wastewater
- DBT, Govt. of India, New Delhi
The studies being carried out for the last 3 years included isolation of specific
microorganisms for the degradation and decolourization of different azodyes used in the
textile dyeing industries. Both anaerobic and aerobic organisms were isolated and cultured
by enrichment technique and these isolated microbes were used in batch experiment as well
as in column after immobilization. The environmental conditions for the degradation and
decolourization were optimised.
The studies indicated very good removal and biodegradation of colour in terms of COD
reduction. The azodye degradation pathways were established. Studies are under progress
on the live wastewaters from the dyeing industries.
National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring
Air pollution poses a major risk to human health and requires for its management a reliable
air quality data base. To fulfill the societal obligations, NEERI has been operating an Air
Quality Monitoring Network for more than a decade with partial financial assistance from
Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) under National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring
(NAAQM) programme. The Ambient Air Quality Database has been generated for the last
two decades for ten major Indian Urban Centres viz. Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi,
Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Nagpur.
The Database has helped in determining the longterm air quality trends in Indian urban
environments and assisting in development of air quality standards and preparing the
framework for development of viable air pollution management plans. The Programme
includes analyzing long-term trends with respect to health related criteria pollutants such as
inhalable dust, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia and other pollutants viz. toxic
polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and trace metals.
In Chennai the monitoring is being done at 3 sites, Taramani (Residential), Park Town
(Commercial) and Thiruvottiyur (Industrial). The Ambient Air Quality Status of these Sites
from January 2003 to August 2003 is presented in the figures.
Solidification & Stabilization of Electroplating Waste
One of the major hazardous waste generating industries is the electroplating and metal
finishing industry due to the presence of high concentrations of heavy metals such as Cr,
Pb, Ni, Cu, Fe, etc. Solidification/Stabilization (S/S) technology is one of the techniques now
gaining momentum as a possible solution for many hazardous wastes. Solidification refers
to techniques that encapsulate the waste in a monolithic solid of high structural integrity.
The encapsulation may be of fine particles (micro-encapsulation) or of a large block or
container of wastes (macro-encapsulation). Stabilization refers to those techniques that
reduce the hazard potential of a waste by converting the contaminants into their least
soluble, mobile or toxic form. The sludge under study has been collected from a medium
scale electroplating industry with around 85-90% moisture content. The characteristics of
the sludge are given in Table.
Metal Dry Sludge
Cadmium 0.006 0.019
Chromium 203.8 235.8
Lead 0.09 2.20
Zinc 36.4 24.5
Objectives of the study were to fix the metal pollutants, to reduce the leachability to
maximum extent, improve the handling and physical characteristics of the waste and
decrease the surface area across which transfer or loss of pollutants can occur. This was
established using cement-flyash and cement-lime system. The sludge taken was 60 and
70%. The lime and flyash content was kept constant at 10% and the rest was cement.
Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) has shown values lesser than the
regulatory limit of USEPA on the 7th day of curing. UCS values for the blocks ranged from
105 to 80 psi in cement flyash system, while the same were 80 to 65 psi in cement lime
system. Other leaching test such as Multiple TCLP, NEN 7341 and ANS 16.1 were conducted
on 60% sludge containing blocks as they showed the maximum UCS. Multiple TCLP and NEN
7341 proved 97-98% fixation of Chromium. ANS 16.1 test data, when modeled to fit a plot
of cumulative fraction leached against square root of time, clearly indicated a straight line
which proved that the leaching process is diffusion controlled. The leachability indices were
found to greatly exceed the guideline value in both the systems. The surface morphology of
the blocks was analysed and SEM photographs clearly indicated the presence of euhedral
and prismatic ettringite crystals. The cement-lime system showed the presence of calcite
and diadochy mechanism for fixation of Chromium.
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