Dr. Kirk R. Smith, professor of global environmental health at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health is one of three recipients of the 2014 Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award. He was recognized for his leadership in research and international efforts in the area of household air pollution from solid-fuel burning traditional cookstoves.
Haagen-Smit Clean Air Awards, the “Nobel Prize” in air quality achievement, are given annually by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) to individuals who have made significant lifetime contributions toward improving air quality and climate change science, technology and policy, furthering the protection of public health.
“These three individuals have championed public health with extraordinary contributions to air pollution science, research and technology,” says ARB Chairman Ms. Mary D. Nichols. “The Haagen-Smit Award is our way of honoring these individuals who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to protecting public health throughout their long and distinguished careers.”
Dr. Smith’s research on the complexity of household air pollution exposure was critical in the development of global burden of disease estimates by the World Health Organization, which now ascribes more than four million premature deaths to household smoke from solid fuels. He has documented the associated risk for pneumonia and adverse birth outcomes in children, and for cataracts, tuberculosis, heart disease, and chronic lung disease in women.
He holds visiting professorships in India and China where he has worked since the early 1980s collecting field measurements, pursuing quantitative research, and working closely with medical and engineering professionals to bring clean air to residents of developing countries, particularly those who, by virtue of their household circumstances, suffer extremely high exposures to smoke from solid-fuel burning in traditional cookstoves.
Dr. Smith was honored with the Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award on June 25 in Sacramento. He also gave a Clean Air Leadership Talk on June 24. The two other recipients of the award are Dr. Donald R. Blake, professor of chemistry at University of California Irvine, and Dr. John C. Wall, vice president and chief technical officer for diesel engine manufacturer Cummins Inc.
The award is named for the late Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit, known as the “father” of air pollution science and control. The award recognizes those who continue his legacy through perseverance, leadership, and innovation in the areas of research, environmental policy, science and technology, public education, and community service. The selection committee is comprised of past award winners.