Dr Ajay Taneja is Head, Department of Chemistry at Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. He has more than 23 years of teaching and research experience, and has trained more than 15 PhD and 19 M. Phil students. He has co-authored more than 100 research articles, five books, five book chapters and three research reports. Since 2006, he has served as the Joint Secretary for the Indian Council of Chemists. He was also awarded Father Rev. T. A. Mathias “National Award for Innovative College Teachers” by All India Association for Christian Higher Education in 2001. He also serves as a consultant on Central Pollution Control Board’s national task force on Standards and SOPs for Indoor Air Pollution.
His research interests include:
- Environmental Chemistry and Air Pollution
- Exposure to Air Pollutants
- Indoor Air Pollution
A short Q & A with Prof. Taneja:
In your opinion, how the field of air pollution research evolved in the last two decades?
In the last two decades, increased emphasis has been placed on quantifying the inter individual variability of total human exposure to environmental pollutants, associated health risk and uncertainty about their estimates. Focus has been on vehicular emission, burning of biomass, crop residue, municipal solid waste and garbage burning, road dust, constructions and industrial emissions in ambient as well as indoor environments.
Though controlling anthropogenic climate change has been the priority, now many health studies has been initiated in last few years with lot of emphasis on public awareness.
What are the biggest challenges associated with conducting air quality research in India?
Today, policymakers and air quality managers rely on cutting-edge science to reduce and control air pollution with cost effective approaches. Most of the simulation models being used in India have foreign origin, they should be validated for national emission inventories, local conditions and then discussed and disseminated. Considerable difference in urban and rural exposure exists so studies should be encouraged to focus on local problems to fill data gaps in existing functions. Manual monitoring networks should be converted to automatic monitors. India must establish a fine particle chemical speciation network to examine particle composition on health.
There is urgent need for multiple stakeholders to work in collaboration to address issues of infrastructure, urban planning, energy, air pollution monitoring and control with low cost interventions.
What is your message to the youth who are interested in studying this topic?
Both energy needs and carbon emissions are highly correlated with the GDP, massive technology changes are occurring; India’s economic structure is also undergoing a huge shift. India has commitments under international climate change agreements. Thus, a long term strategy is required to decouple growth from emissions. Country plans to increase the share of renewable energy for which development of indigenous technology is our prime concern. Moreover geoengineering tools should also be explored to counteract anthropogenic climate change. There are lot of gaps to be filled in capacity building in areas of emission inventories, ambient and indoor measurements, modelling, control strategies and technologies. Each field has its own challenges; moreover enforcement of regulations and periodic verification is another big task which everyone should be made aware of irrespective of the field they have taken for their career.