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 environmental audit

The broad objectives of the laboratory are:

1. To conduct research and developmental studies in the area of environmental science and engineering.
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

Environmental Monitoring
- 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 Coimbatore
- 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 Limited, Mumbai.
- 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, New Delhi
- Bacteriological & Virological Quality of Irrigation Schemes in TN - sponsored by Anna University, Chennai

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.



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 RT-PCR. 

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 detection 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.


Dry Sludge (mg/l)














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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The Director
National Environmental Engineering Research Institute
Nehru Marg
Nagpur - 440020
Maharashtra, India

Phone    : 2249885-890 
Fax         : 0712 -2249900
E-Mail     : dirneeri_ngp[at]sancharnet[dot]in
Website :
NEERI Chennai Zonal Laboratory
CSIR Madras Complex,
Chennai - 600113

Phone : 22541964 | 22541250 
Fax      : 22541964
Email: sicneeri[at]csircmc[dot]res[dot]in