Barnett Rattner, Ph.D.
Dr. Barnett Rattner is an ecotoxicologist. He conducts hypothesis-driven laboratory and field investigations, risk assessments and scholarly evaluations on the toxicity of legacy and contemporary pollutants (industrial contaminants, metals, pesticides, petroleum crude oil) to wildlife and the environment. His current focus is on exposure and adverse effects of anticoagulant rodenticides, of flame retardants and pharmaceuticals, comparative toxicology, non-target secondary poisoning associated with rodenticides, alternative testing methods, and screening-level risk assessments. Dr. Rattner actively represents the DOI as a member of the Interagency Testing Committee of Chemical Safety Improvement Act and the Interagency Coordinating Committee for the Validation of Alternative Methods, and serves as a special consultant to the Fish and Wildlife Service on issues related to nontoxic shot used in hunting.
- B.S., University of Maryland, 1972 - Zoology
- M.S., University of Maryland, 1974 - Zoology, Developmental Biology
- Ph.D., University of Maryland, 1977 - Zoology, Environmental Physiology
- National Research Council Postdoctoral Associateship, Naval Medical Research Institute, 1978 - Hyperbaric Physiology
Areas of Expertise/Interest: Wildlife Toxicology; Risk Assessment; Physiology
- Development of data and models to evaluate the hazard and risk of anticoagulant rodenticides to non-target raptorial species
- Aborption, distribution, metabolism, eliminaiton and toxicity of neonicotinoids in seed-eating birds
- Toxicity of flame retardants and pesticides to avian species
- Contaminant exposure and potential reproductive effects in ospreys nesting in Chesapeake and Delaware Bay
- Contaminant-related activities and synoptic reviews in support of client agencies in the Department of the Interior
- Technical assistance to the Fish and Wildlife Service on alternative shot
Accomplishments, Awards, and Achievements:
- Authored over 125 publications, co-edited three books (Handbook of Ecotoxicology, Ecotoxicology of Wild Mammals,Anticoagulant Rodenticides and Wildlife), and made over 150 presentations at scientific meetings, workshops and symposia.
- Compiled two widely used internet-accessible ecotoxicological databases (Contaminant Exposure and Effects—Terrestrial Vertebrates database, Biological and Ecotoxicological Characteristics of Terrestrial Vertebrate Species Residing in Estuaries).
- Serves as Terrestrial Editor of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and as an Editorial Board member of the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, and Outlooks on Pest Management.
- SETAC Government Service Award 2007
- President, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry - North America 2012
- President, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry World Council 2015
- Fellow, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2017
Science and Products
The Challenge: Neonicotinoid pesticides act as agonists of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and are designed to be lethal to insects while theoretically posing little to no threat to vertebrates. The perceived safety of neonicotinoids has led to a sharp increase in their use in the United States and globally, since they were first introduced in 1994. The use of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid in the United States has increased 166% since 2009, from 0.75 to roughly 2 million pounds, and its use as seed treatment represents approximately 56% of total annual usage. Although neonicotinoids are designed to be selectively toxic to invertebrates, effects on other organisms are being reported. However, toxicity information on birds is particularly limited. Birds are primarily exposed to neonicotinoids orally (feeding, preening), by inhalation, or dermally depending on whether the pesticide is applied by aerial spraying or as a seed coating.
The Challenge: Neonicotinoids are now the most widely applied class of insecticides in the United States, and are predominantly used in the form of seed treatments. Compared to invertebrates, neonicotinoids are less toxic to wildlife, although genotoxic, cytotoxic, immunological, behavioral and reproductive effects have been reported in studies with birds. At present, little is known about the pharmacokinetics (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion) of these pesticides in birds, which can dictate and affect the timecourse of their toxicity. Such information will greatly assist in evaluating the hazard and risk of neonicotinoid seed coatings to wild birds.
The Challenge: Agricultural, industrial and urban activities have had major effects on waterbirds in Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. Some legacy pollutants (PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, flame retardants, metals) pose a potential threat to wildlife in some locations. Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and endocrine disrupting compounds have been detected in water and fish tissue, yet knowledge of effects on wildlife is limited. This is the first study to examine bioaccumulation of pharmaceuticals and their fate in the water-fish-osprey food chain.
The Challenge: Anticoagulant rodenticides have been identified as being hazardous to predatory and scavenging birds on a global scale. Restrictions on the sale, distribution and packaging of some second generation anticoagulant rodenticides (e.g., brodifacoum, difethialone, bromadiolone and difenacoum) have been instituted by the US EPA, and will likely result in expanded use of first-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (e.g., chlorophacinone, diphacinone). The risk posed by anticoagulant rodenticides to wildlife is inadequately characterized, and toxicological data are needed to better evaluate the threat of these compounds non-target organisms.
The Challenge: Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that has been used by veterinarians for the treatment of inflammation, fever and pain in domestic livestock. This drug appears to have been the principal cause of a severe population crash of vultures of the genus Gyps in India and Pakistan. Vultures unintentionally ingested diclofenac when scavenging livestock treated shortly before death. This is perhaps the only well-documented instance of a veterinary drug resulting in an adverse population-level effect in non-target free-ranging birds. Diclofenac is registered for veterinary use in many Western hemisphere countries (e.g., Chile, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, and provisional use in the United States), and there is potential for non-target exposure of birds of prey, including endangered California condors (Gymnogyps californianus) in the western U.S.
The Challenge: The Department of the Interior has extensive responsibilities for management of fish and wildlife, and their supporting habitat. Stewardship activities include assessment of potentially adverse effects of natural and anthropogenic stressors on biota, including chemical contaminants. We assist by providing scientific information to support development of federal guidelines, regulations and statutes. We identify and communicate information on the exposure and effects of contaminants in wildlife so that responsible agencies may take action to prevent or mitigate adverse effects and remediate polluted habitats.
The Challenge: Polybrominated diphenyl ether flame retardants (PBDEs) are contaminants that bioaccumulate and biomagnify in aquatic and terrestrial food webs. Unlike many contemporary pollutants, these flame retardants have increased in the environment over the past 30 years. Studies in Chesapeake and Delaware Bays have documented concentrations of nearly 1 μg/g wet weight of PBDEs in osprey eggs, and even greater levels in peregrine falcon eggs. Limited information is available on the toxicity thresholds of these compounds and new organophosphate flame retardants in wildlife.
The Challenge: The National Contaminant Biomonitoring Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been the only large-scale effort that has examined contaminant exposure in terrestrial vertebrates in the United States. Halogenated contaminants, metals, and new pollutants continue to pose hazards to wildlife at many geographic scales. To address this hazard, critical data gaps are being identified through retrospective compilation and analysis of ecotoxicological data. (www.pwrc.usgs.gov/contaminants-online)
Exposure of wildlife to Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) is likely to occur but evidence of hazard and risk is limited. One exposure pathway that has received attention is trophic transfer of APIs in a water-fish-osprey food chain.
Biomarker responses of Peromyscus leucopus exposed to lead and cadmium in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District
Biomarker responses and histopathological lesions have been documented in laboratory mammals exposed to elevated concentrations of lead and cadmium. The exposure of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) to these metals and the potential associated toxic effects were examined at three contaminated sites in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining...Beyer, W. Nelson; Casteel, Stan W.; Friedrichs, Kristen R.; Gramlich, Eric; Houseright, Ruth A.; Nichols, John W.; Karouna-Renier, Natalie; Kim, Dae Young; Rangen, Kathleen; Rattner, Barnett A.; Schultz, Sandra
Anticoagulant rodenticide toxicity to non-target wildlife under controlled exposure conditions
Much of our understanding of anticoagulant rodenticide toxicity to non-target wildlife has been derived from molecular through whole animal research and registration studies in domesticated birds and mammals, and to a lesser degree from trials with captive wildlife. Using these data, an adverse outcome pathway identifying molecular initiating and...van den Brink, Nico; Elliott, J.; Shore, R.; Rattner, B.; Rattner, Barnett A.; Mastrota, F. Nicholas
Anticoagulant rodenticides and wildlife: Concluding remarks
Rodents are known to affect human society globally in various adverse ways, resulting in a widespread demand for their continuous control. Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) have been, and currently remain, the cornerstone of rodent control throughout the world. Although alternative control methods exist, they are generally less effective. ARs work...van den Brink, Nico W.; Elliott, John E.; Shore, Richard F.; Rattner, Barnett A.
Anticoagulant rodenticides and wildlife: Introduction
Rodents have interacted with people since the beginning of systematic food storage by humans in the early Neolithic era. Such interactions have had adverse outcomes such as threats to human health, spoiling and consumption of food sources, damage to human infrastructure and detrimental effects on indigenous island wildlife (through inadvertent...van den Brink, Nico W.; Elliott, John E.; Shore, Richard F.; Rattner, Barnett A.; van den Brink, Nico W.; Elliott, John E.; Shore, Richard F.; Rattner, Barnett A.
Pharmaceuticals in water, fish and osprey nestlings in Delaware River and Bay
Exposure of wildlife to Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) is likely to occur but studies of risk are limited. One exposure pathway that has received attention is trophic transfer of APIs in a water-fish-osprey food chain. Samples of water, fish plasma and osprey plasma were collected from Delaware River and Bay, and analyzed for 21 APIs....Bean, Thomas G.; Rattner, Barnett A.; Lazarus, Rebecca S.; Day, Daniel D.; Burket, S. Rebekah; Brooks, Bryan W.; Haddad, Samuel P.; Bowerman, William W.
Wildlife and environmental pollution
No abstract available.Rattner, Barnett A.
Predictive framework for estimating exposure of birds to pharmaceuticals
We present and evaluate a framework for estimating concentrations of pharmaceuticals over time in wildlife feeding at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). The framework is composed of a series of predictive steps involving the estimation of pharmaceutical concentration in wastewater, accumulation into wildlife food items, and uptake by wildlife...Bean, Thomas G.; Arnold, Kathryn E.; Lane, Julie M.; Bergström, Ed; Thomas-Oates, Jane; Rattner, Barnett A.; Boxall, Allistair B.A.
Amino acid specific stable nitrogen isotope values in avian tissues: Insights from captive American kestrels and wild herring gulls
Through laboratory and field studies, the utility of amino acid compound-specific nitrogen isotope analysis (AA-CSIA) in avian studies is investigated. Captive American kestrels (Falco sparverius) were fed an isotopically characterized diet and patterns in δ15N values of amino acids (AAs) were compared to those in their tissues (muscle and red...Hebert, Craig E.; Popp, B.N.; Fernie, K.J.; Ka'apu-Lyons, C.; Rattner, Barnett A.; Wallsgrove, N.
Alternative approaches to vertebrate ecotoxicity tests in the 21st century: A review of developments over the last 2 decades and current status
The need for alternative approaches to the use of vertebrate animals for hazard assessment of chemicals and pollutants has become of increasing importance. It is now the first consideration when initiating a vertebrate ecotoxicity test, to ensure that unnecessary use of vertebrate organisms is minimized wherever possible. For some regulatory...Lillicrap, Adam; Belanger, Scott; Burden, Natalie; Du Pasquier, David; Embry, Michelle; Halder, Marlies; Lampi, Mark; Lee, Lucy; Norberg-King, Teresa J.; Rattner, Barnett A.; Schirmer, Kristin; Thomas, Paul
Chesapeake Bay fish–osprey (Pandion haliaetus) food chain: Evaluation of contaminant exposure and genetic damage
From 2011 to 2013, a large-scale ecotoxicological study was conducted in several Chesapeake Bay (USA) tributaries (Susquehanna River and flats, the Back, Baltimore Harbor/Patapsco Rivers, Anacostia/ middle Potomac, Elizabeth and James Rivers) and Poplar Island as a mid-Bay reference site. Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) diet and the transfer of...Lazarus, Rebecca S.; Rattner, Barnett A.; McGowan, Peter C.; Hale, Robert C.; Karouna-Reiner, Natalie K.; Erickson, Richard A.; Ottinger, Mary Ann
Retrospective: Adjusting contaminant concentrations in bird eggs to account for moisture and lipid Loss during their incubation
By the 1960s, research and monitoring efforts on chlorinated pesticide residues in tissues of wildlife were well underway in North America and Europe. Conservationists and natural resource managers were attempting to resolve whether pesticide exposure and accumulated residues were related to population declines in several species of predatory and...Rattner, Barnett A.; Wiemeyer, Stanley N.; Blus, Lawrence J.
Paying the pipers: Mitigating the impact of anticoagulant rodenticides on predators and scavengers
Anticoagulant rodenticides, mainly second-generation forms, or SGARs, dominate the global market for rodent control. Introduced in the 1970s to counter genetic resistance in rodent populations to first-generation compounds such as warfarin, SGARs are extremely toxic and highly effective killers. However, their tendency to persist and accumulate in...Elliott, John E.; Rattner, Barnett A.; Shore, Richard F.; van den Brink, Nico W.