Katharine Hammond

Research Expertise and Interest

public health, environmental health sciences

Research Description

Katherine Hammond is a Professor Emeritus of Environmental Health Science.  Her research interests include: 

  • Responses of asthmatic children to short-term fluctuations in particulate air pollution
  • Neurologic and reproductive effects of hexane on workers
  • Exposure and health effects of secondhand smoke and international efforts for tobacco control
  • Evaluating exposure and health effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on asthmatic
  • children and workers in China from the combustion of smoky coal

In the News

First-of-Its-Kind Research Shows Dangers of Secondhand Cannabis Smoke

A new paper published March 30, 2022, in JAMA Network Open by authors Patton Khuu Nguyen, MPH, and Berkeley Public Health Professor of Environmental Health Sciences S. Katharine Hammond, is the first to quantify SHCS levels from social cannabis smoking using a bong in the home. The research reveals concentrations greatly exceeded those in homes with tobacco cigarette or hookah smoking and decayed very slowly, which suggests that, contrary to popular beliefs, bong smoking is not safe for those nearby.

New Awards Fund Work Between U.S., Chinese Women Scientists

In 2009, cell biologist Lin He changed the direction of her research after a surprisingly fruitful collaboration with a woman scientist in Beijing. The same program that funded that successful project, the Chau Hoi Shuen Foundation Women in Science Program, is now supporting He and two other women faculty for similar collaborations with Chinese women scientists.

Secondhand Smoke in Bars and Restaurants Means Higher Risk of Asthma and Cancer

In the first study to evaluate the health risks of exposure to secondhand smoke for patrons of restaurants and bars, researchers have found that the risks are well above the acceptable level. The study assessed the risk for lung cancer and heart disease deaths among both patrons and servers and also for asthma initiation—the first study to do so—among servers.

Air pollution alters immune function, worsens asthma symptoms

Exposure to dirty air is linked to decreased function of a gene that appears to increase the severity of asthma in children, according to a joint study by researchers at Stanford University and UC Berkeley. While air pollution is known to be a source of immediate inflammation, this new study provides one of the first pieces of direct evidence that explains how some ambient air pollutants could have long-term effects.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
March 31, 2022
Adrianna Rodriguez
You've heard about the dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke, but what about secondhand bong smoke? The haze after a bubbly bong hit may appear harmless, but a study published in JAMA Network Open found bystanders may inhale air pollutants at concentrations more than twice federal air quality limits. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, measured fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in a real-world setting where a group of young adults socially smoked cannabis with a bong for two hours in an ordinary household living room. Within the first 15 minutes of smoking, PM2.5 concentrations surpassed air quality levels deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency. "There's negative attitudes to secondhand tobacco smoke but not really to secondhand cannabis smoke," said lead study author Patton Nguyen, an industrial hygienist and a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Public Health. "What we want this study to do is really elucidate and help people understand that there are public health concerns." Fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, in the air can travel deep into the respiratory tract, reaching the lungs and affecting their function. 
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