Dr. Rattray’s research interests include the study of the levels of elements, mainly metals, in the environment (soil, agricultural crops, animals and humans), with specific focus on essential and potentially harmful elements. The ultimate goal is to understand the composition of components of the environment to provide data for appropriate decision-making strategies towards national development.
His research has contributed to the identification of areas in Jamaica with anomalously high levels of lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic in the soil. In particular, the parish of Manchester has been found to be naturally enriched with cadmium, and parts of St Elizabeth with arsenic. These soil levels are reflected in the composition of some agricultural food crops which have been investigated.
Currently, more recent investigations are underway towards determining the baseline levels of metals in the hair of a sample population of persons in these two parishes, as well as from Kingston and St. Andrew. This study aims to establish the normal levels of metals in the hair of Jamaicans to aid in the forensic analysis of abnormal situations, such as deliberate or accidental poisonings.
Another research theme is the assessment of the bio-availability of lead in the soil from different locations in Jamaica and its relationship with environmental parameters.
Atomic spectroscopy techniques, such as atomic absorption and atomic emission, as well as X ray fluorescence and neutron activation analysis in collaboration with other institutions, are the tools used to target solutions.
Dr. Rattray also has additional interest in atmospheric chemistry and the effect of atmospheric pollution on health. A collaborative study involving measurement of the levels of in- and extra-vehicle pollution, such as the oxides of sulfur, nitrogen and carbon, using affordable computer-based monitors is also underway.
Dr. Rattray has published approximately 28 journal articles related to analytical and environmental chemistry.