Arie Haagen-Smit 

This page last reviewed April 14, 2010

Dr. Haagen-Smit Dr. Haagen-Smit in a lab

Who is Dr. Haagen-Smit?

ARB's prestigious award program was named after Dr. Arie J. Haagen-Smit, a native of Utrecht in the Netherlands, who was a leader in developing air quality standards based on his research efforts. Dr. Haagen-Smit, known by many as the "father" of air pollution control, was a graduate of the University of Utrecht and a biochemistry professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena for 16 years before beginning his air pollution research in 1948. Through a series of experiments, he found that most of California's smog resulted from photochemistry (when exhaust from motor vehicles and industrial facilities react with sunlight to create ozone). This breakthrough is the foundation upon which today's nationwide air pollution standards are based. After serving for eight years as an original board member of ARB's predecessor, the Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Board, Dr. Haagen-Smit became ARB's first chairman in 1968. In 1977, he died of lung cancer two months after the ARB laboratory in El Monte was dedicated in his name.

Dr. Haagen-Smit has been honored with another award program administered by Atmospheric Environment, a publication of original air pollution research and its applications. Please see Atmospheric Environment's Haagen-Smit Prize for more information and to view the recent winners.

Photos Courtesy of the Archives, California Institute of Technology


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