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MIT Tata Center searches for solutions to India's air pollution crisis

The Tata Center offers several courses as a part of MIT's catalog with particular applicability to engineering skills for the developing world
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   23-10-2018

Air pollution in New Delhi

The MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design announced eight new projects for the 2018-2019 academic year which will search for solutions to problems plaguing India including air pollution and unsafe drinking water.

The eight new proposals will become part of a portfolio of 45 “active projects” currently being supported by the center, reported MIT News.

The six-year-old MIT institute was founded with support from Tata Trusts to focus on innovation for the developing world.

With air pollution reducing the average Indian’s life span by 1.5 years, the MIT Tata Centre has made tackling pollution a research priority. This year, Steven Barrett from the department of aeronautics and astronautics and Leslie Norford from the department of architecture will undertake a project focused on designing policy and tech interventions to mitigate Indian agricultural residue burning impacts.

Although India’s environmental court has ordered the government to stop farmers from burning the straw left over from their rice harvests, NASA satellite images in recent weeks have shown virtually no abatement. In Delhi, pollution soared well above “hazardous levels” in the past week, Environment Minister Imran Hussain warned on Wednesday. Smoke from the crop fires blowing across the northern plains into New Delhi accounts for about one-quarter of the most dangerous air pollution in the winter months.

David Hsu, Youssef Marzouk and Jesse Kroll are teaming up on a project looking at deployment strategies for low-cost air quality sensors, while Colette Heald from the department of civil and environmental engineering will identify the biggest culprits of air pollution in India.

Indoor and outdoor air pollution are directly responsible for one in nine deaths worldwide, according to estimates by the World Health Organization.

Tata Center Director Rob Stoner said 150 proposals have been funded so far by the center helping “shepherd many of these proposals” through a “translational process” that will get them ready for adoption by startups, established firms, or policymakers in the coming years.

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