Dr. Louis C. McCabe, 74, a retired geologist, mining engineer and authority on air pollution, died Thursday at walter Reed Army Medical Center. He suffered from Parkinson's disease.

Formerly with the U.S. Bureau of Mines and the U.S. Public Health Service, he founded Resources Research, Inc., here in 1955 and was its president until it was purchased by Hazleton Laboratories, Inc. of Falls Church in 1963.

Dr. McCabe then was chairman of the board of Hazleton, which specialized in life sciences and chemistry, until his retirement in 1968. He established a consulting firm, the Environmental Development Co., which he operated for two years until ill health forced a second retirement.

Dr. McCabe was born in Graphic, Ark. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees and a doctorate from the University of Illinois and was geologist of the Illinois State Geological Survey prior to World War II.

During the war, he was chief of the utilities section in the office of the Chief of Engineers and then deputy War Department power procurement officer.

In the latter part of the war, Dr. McCabe was an Army colonel on the staff of SHAEF and was in charge of the coal mines in Belgium, and later the Ruhr and the Saar. He was decorated with the Legion of Merit, the Order of the British Empire and the Order of the Crown of Belgium for his work in getting coal and to the Allied forces.

He was chief of the coal branch of the U.S. Bureau of Mines in 1946-47, then organized the Los Angeles County Air Pollution Control District, serving as its director until 1949.

Dr. McCabe returned to the Bureau of Mines as chief of the office of air and stream pollution and later was chief of the fuel and explosives division. He was sicentist director of the Public Health Service in 1955.

He early had warned that the District of Columbia would be beset by a major air pollution problem because of the increase in motor traffic bringing with it heavy exhaust fumes.

Dr. McCabe contributed articles to numerous scientific publications. He was a fellow of the Geological Society of American and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He had held office in the Air Pollution Control Association and was active in the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, the American Society for Testing Materials, the American Chemical Society and the World Health Organization.

He is survived by his wife, Catherine, of the home in Chevy Chase; two daughters, Dorothy Tolson, of Wheaton, and Jeanne Brown, of Williamsburg, Va., two sons, Dr. Michael, of Honolulu, and Dr. John, of New York City; a brother, Bill, of Denver; a sister, Louise Beveridge, of Toronto, Canada, and seven grandchildren.