Richard Prindle, 75, who in the 1950s and 1960s oversaw studies linking air pollution to serious health problems and who served as acting U.S. surgeon general in 1969 and 1970, died Sept. 11 at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville. He had Parkinson's disease.
Dr. Prindle retired in 1971 as a rear admiral after more than 20 years with the Public Health Service. During his time as a researcher and deputy chief of the health service's air pollution division, he shepherded research that illustrated the need for coal plants and automobiles to reduce harmful emissions.
The most prominent of the research was the Nashville Study, released in the 1960s. Dr. Prindle, among the first to link air pollution with cancer, helped plan and coordinate what was regarded as the most comprehensive U.S. study of air pollution and its relation to respiratory disease and other ailments.
In the 1960s, Dr. Prindle became chief of the public health methods division, where he contributed to the campaign against smoking and helped start research into family planning methods.
He was an adviser to the Johnson administration during the creation of Medicare, and he was awarded the PHS's Meritorious Service Medal.
Dr. Prindle was born in Mansfield, Ohio, and raised in Shreveport, La. He was a graduate of Centenary College. He received his medical degree and a master's degree in public health policy from Harvard University.
He had worked at what became the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 1954 to 1957, he was sent to Haiti, where he served as deputy chief for health and sanitation. A colleague was Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who became Haiti's president in 1957. When Dr. Prindle left Haiti in 1957 for the Washington area, Duvalier made an unsuccessful bid to purchase the Prindle family's Plymouth hardtop sedan.
After leaving the health service in 1971, Dr. Prindle joined the Pan American Health Organization as director of family health planning. He retired in 1977 and moved to Madison, Va., where for 10 years he served as director of the Thomas Jefferson District Health Department.
In the late 1980s, Dr. Prindle taught at the University of Virginia's medical school. He moved to Charlottesville in the 1990s.
He had been a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
His marriage to Susannah Freeman ended in divorce. His wife of five years, Mary Teresa Grimesey, died in 1978.
Survivors include his wife of 22 years, Susan McLeod of Charlottesville; two sons from his first marriage, Mark, of Burtonsville, and Timothy, of Silver Spring; and a grandson.