Kirk R. Smith

Kirk R. Smith

Professor of Global Environmental Health
School of Public Health
(510) 643-0793
(510) 642-5815
Research Expertise and Interest
climate change, public health, air pollution, environmental health science, global health, household energy
Research Description

His research and policy work focuses on environmental, health, and climate issues in developing countries, particularly those related to air pollution and energy. He conducts field research in Guatemala, Mexico, India, Nepal, and China. He serves on a number of national and international scientific advisory boards including those for the Global Energy Assessment, the Global Comparative Risk Assessment, the WHO Air Quality Guidelines, and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is on the editorial boards of a range of international journals and has published over 300 scientific articles and 11 books. He holds bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees from UC Berkeley and, in 1997, was elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors awarded to US scientists by their peers. In 2009, he was awarded the Heinz Prize in environment and in 2012 he received the Tyler Prize for environmental achievement.

In the News

June 27, 2016

To improve Beijing’s air quality, cut household fuel use too

China’s plans to curb Beijing’s health-damaging air pollution by focusing on restricting emissions from power plants and vehicles may have limited impact if household use of coal and other dirty fuels is not also curtailed, according to a new study.

November 10, 2011

Wood smoke from cooking fires linked to pneumonia, cognitive impacts

UC Berkeley-led researchers have found a dramatic one-third reduction in severe pneumonia diagnoses among children in homes with smoke-reducing chimneys on their cookstoves. Reducing wood smoke could have a major impact on the burden of pneumonia, the leading cause of child mortality in the world, the researchers said. A separate pilot study also found a link between prenatal maternal exposure to woodsmoke and poorer performance in markers for IQ among school-aged children.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.
December 19, 2018
Katrina Yu
Following China's efforts to convert the fuel source for 4 million homes from coal to natural gas, the average person's exposure to the most dangerous particles of air pollution dropped 47 percent, according to a new study co-authored by Berkeley and Tsinghua University researchers. The researchers also calculated that that the pollution reductions could help prevent 400,000 premature deaths a year. "Household air pollution has a bigger effect on health, because emissions from households are right next to the people and the impact in terms of exposure is higher," says public health professor Kirk Smith, a global environmental health expert and one of the study's co-authors. "The pollution starts in the kitchen, but it soon goes outdoors. So when you improve the household fuel situation by swapping to cleaner fuels you help villagers directly, but you also progress in reducing outdoor air pollution."