Professor of Global Environmental Health
Head of Household Energy, Climate, and Health Research Group
Division of Environmental Health Sciences
School of Public Health
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-7360
Kirk Smith's home page
•Demonstrated that the highest exposures to air pollutants occur in rural household settings in developing countries where biomass (wood and agricultural residues) is the principal fuels. Since nearly half the world's population uses biomass fuel, the health impacts of this exposure are now estimated to be larger than any other environmental health risk globally
--PI for first and only randomized controlled trial in air pollution history – ALRI in Guatemala
--PI for major health studies for several other diseases associated with household air pollution (HAP) including TB, cataracts, blood pressure, heart rate variability, lung function, and cognitive effects
--Developed methodology for assessing burden of disease from household air pollution
• Demonstrated that renewable biomass fuel cycles are not greenhouse-gas neutral due to incomplete combustion products
• Created concept of "exposure trading" whereby polluters have a financial incentive to reduce emissions through a system of buying and selling emissions permits.
• Demonstrated that the application of exposure concepts, including the idea of "exposure effectiveness," (now called intake fraction) has potential to achieve greater environmental protection quicker and at lower cost than traditional approaches.
• Created concept of "natural debt" (net result of polluting Earth faster than natural processes can dissipate the damage) and applied it to international greenhouse-gas negotiations. Enables countries to negotiate how much responsibility each has for cleaning up the environment based upon relative contributions in the past and present.
• Created concept of "risk transition" to complement traditional epidemiologic and demographic transition models.
Current Research Interests
•Health affects studies of household air pollution: currently TB and childhood pneumonia in Nepal
--Expanding current research techniques to evaluate case-outcome and alternative clinical management strategies of chronic health conditions exacerbated by air pollution:
• Promotion and evaluation of large-scale changes in household fuel access from a health perspective: currently LPG in India and electric cooking in South America
--Continued development of suite of “small, smart, fast, and cheap” microchip-based devices for monitoring exposure-related parameters in remote resource-poor settings.
--Reduction of exposure misclassification in studies of heat stress and air pollution
--Use of integrated exposure assessment in policy: current work in India and Mongolia
--Conceptual and policy basis for addressing long-term impacts from climate change.
Smith KR, Zhang J, Uma R, Kishore VVN, Joshi V, Khalil MAK. 2000. Greenhouse implications of household fuels: an analysis for India. Annual Review of Energy and Environment 25:741-63.
Smith KR. 2000. National burden of disease in India from indoor air pollution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 97(24):13286-93.
Smith KR, Place makes the poison, J Exposure Anal and Environ Epidemiol. 12: 167-171, 2002.
McCracken JM, Smith KR, Mittleman M, Diaz A, Schwartz J, Chimney stove intervention to reduce long-term woodsmoke exposure lowers blood pressure among Guatemalan women, Environ Health Perspect. 115 (7): 996-1001, 2007.
Catalano R, Bruckner T, Smith KR, Ambient Temperature Predicts Sex Ratios and Male Longevity,
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105 (6): 2244-2247, 2008
Smith KR, Haigler E, Co-benefits of climate mitigation and health protection in energy systems:
Scoping methods, Annual Review of Public Health, 29: 11-25, 2008
Smith KR, Jerrett M, Anderson R, Burnett RT, Stone V, Derwent R, Atkinson RW, Cohen A, Shonkoff SB, Krewski D, Pope CA 3rd, Thun MJ, Thurston G. The health implications of the short-lived greenhouse pollutants, Series on the impact on public health of strategies to reduce greenhouse gases, the Lancet. 374(9707): 2091-2103, 2009.
Wilkinson P, Smith KR, Davies M, Adair H, Armstrong BG, Barrett M Bruce N, Haines A, Hamilton I, Oreszczyn T, Ridley I, Tonne C, Chalabi Z., Household energy, Series on the impact on public health of strategies to reduce greenhouse gases, the Lancet 374(9705):1917-29, 2009.
Smith KR, McCracken JM, Weber MW, Hubbard H, Jenny A, Thompson L, Balmes J, Diaz A, Arana B, Bruce N, RESPIRE: A Randomised Controlled Trial of the impact of reducing household air pollution on childhood pneumonia in Guatemala, the Lancet 378: 1717–26, 2011.
Dix-Cooper L, Eskenazi B, Romero C, Balmes J, Smith KR, Neurodevelopmental performance among school age children in rural Guatemala is associated with prenatal and postnatal exposure to carbon monoxide, a marker for exposure to woodsmoke. J of NeuroToxicology, 33: 246–254, 2012.
Lam NL, Chen Y, Weyant C, Venkataraman V, Sadavarte P, Johnson MA, Smith KR, Brem BT, Arineitwe J, Ellis JE, Bond TC, Household light makes global heat: High black carbon emissions from kerosene wick lamps, Environ Sci Technol 46 (24): 13531–13538, 2012
Smith KR, Bruce N, Balakrishnan K, Adair-Rohani H, Balmes J, Chafe Z, Dherani M, Hosgood HD, Mehta S, Pope D, Rehfuess E, and others in the HAP CRA Expert Group, Millions dead: how do we know and what does it mean? Methods used in the Comparative Risk Assessment of Household Air
Pollution, Ann Rev of Public Health, 35: 185-206, 2014.
Chafe Z, Brauer M, Klimont Z, Van Dingenen R, Mehta S, Rao S, Riahi K, Dentener F, Smith KR,
Household Cooking with Solid Fuels Contributes to Ambient PM2.5 Air Pollution and the Burden of
Disease, Environmental Health Perspectives, 122: 1314-1320, 2014.
Smith KR, Sagar A, Making the clean available: Escaping India’s chulha trap, Energy Policy 75: 410–414, 2014.
Pillarisetti A, Vaswani M, Jack D, Balakrishnan K, Bates MN, Arora NK, Smith KR, Patterns of stove usage after introduction of an advanced cookstove: the long-term application of household sensors. Environ Sci Technol 48 (24), pp 14525–14533, 2014.
Smith KR, 2015, Climate Change, Violence, and the Afterlife, Ch 34 in Butler CD, Dixon J,Capon AC, eds, Healthy People, Places, and Planet: Reflections based on Tony McMichael’s Four Decades of Contribution to Epidemiological Understanding, pp. 581-586, ANU E-Press, Canberra, Australia.
Desai MA, Rodgers JV, Smith KR, Applications of a joint CO2 and CH4 climate debt metric: Insights into global patterns and mitigation priorities, Global Environmental Change , 2015.
• Global Burden of Disease and Comparative Risk Assessment
• Climate Change for Health Scientists
--The Environment in Post-apocalyptic Fiction (UCB)
•Alumnus of the Year for the UCB School of Public Health, 1989
--Elected Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, 1997
• Elected Fellow of the International Academy of Indoor Air Sciences, 1997
• Heinz Award for the Environment (2009)
--Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2012)
--Honorary Professorships in India and China
Public and University Service
• Founder/Director of Global Health and Environment Master's Program, UCB
• Deputy Director COEH, International Programs,
• Chair, Environmental Health Sciences Graduate Group, SPH, UCB
-Member, IOM Roundtable on Environ Health Science, Research, and Medicine
-Commissioner, Global Alliance for Health and Pollution
-International Advisory Board, Duke Kunshan University, China
- International Advisory Board, Shenzhen Institute of Building Research
- Ministry of Health Task Force on Integrated Air Pollution Control, New Delhi
-Scientific Advisory Board, Global LPG Partnership