Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Engineer Professional Advisory Committee


Assistant Surgeon General
Rear Admiral, USPHS (ret.)

Delbert Sylvester Barth was born in Lawrenceburg, Indiana in July 1925. He grew up on a farm near Upper Sandusky, Ohio. He was the valedictorian of his high school graduating class and in 1943 headed for the West Point Military Academy, where he graduated in Military Engineering in 1946, after three years. “Del” Barth went on to obtain an M.S. in Nuclear Physics from Ohio State University in 1952, an M.S. in Solid State Physics from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1960, and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Ohio State in 1962.

Upon graduating from West Point, he and Lucille married in July 1946 in Washington, Indiana and they eventually had three children. Barth spent the next two years as a Health Physics Trainee with the Army Chemical Corps at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. In 1949 and 1950, he had various training assignments with the Army. After graduating from O.U. in 1952, Barth became the Assistant Commandant, Panama Area Control School, in the Panama Canal Zone. There he taught chemical, biological, and radiological warfare to military personnel from all the services. From 1956 to 1960, Barth was an Assistant Professor at West Point where he taught chemistry.

Barth transferred to the USPHS Commissioned Corps in December 1960. His first PHS assignment was as a Staff Officer, Division of Radiological Health, in Rockville, Maryland. In July 1963, he transferred to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he became the Director, Bioenvironmental Research Program at the PHS Southwestern Radiological Health Laboratory. There he was responsible for directing bioenvironmental research with a goal of developing and validating predictive models for estimating human radiation exposure. In 1969, Barth became the Director, Bureau of Criteria and Standards, National Air Pollution Control Administration (under Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) in Durham, North Carolina. In December 1970, he was promoted to Assistant Surgeon General in with the equivalent rank of Rear Admiral (RADM) lower half.

With the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), RADM Barth became the Director of the Bureau of Air Pollution Sciences at Research Triangle Park in March of 1971, and in August of 1971, he became the Director, National Environmental Research Center, Research Triangle Park, for the EPA. There he directed a staff of 700 people engaged in research and technical support related to air pollution, pesticides, and radiation.

In August 1972, RADM Barth returned to Las Vegas to head EPA’s Environmental Monitoring and Support Laboratory. He retired from the USPHS Commissioned Corps in July 1974 and remained with EPA in the Civil Service. In 1976, Barth was promoted to Deputy Assistant Administrator for Health and Ecological Effects, EPA, in Washington, DC. In this position, he was responsible for the management of a comprehensive research program in support of the development of EPA’s standards, criteria, and guidelines for controlling pollutants. While with EPA, Barth returned in September 1978 to Las Vegas to become a visiting professor of biophysics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

In 1982, Barth, having left EPA, became a Senior Scientist at the Environmental Research Center, UNLV, where he taught, did research, and consulted in the area of environmental science, radiation health, and risk assessments. From January 1989 through May 1992, he was the Director of the UNLV Environmental Research Center, which had 65 scientists at the time conducting research in multi-media monitoring, human exposures, environmental impact assessments, remote sensing, etc. In 1994, he retired from UNLV as a Professor Emeritus.

Since then, Del Barth has continued to be a consultant on many projects involving the nuclear programs at Hanford, Washington and Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and has been a member of the Army Science Board. Throughout his career, Barth has been active in the American Physical Society and National Academy of Sciences. He is the recipient of the PHS Distinguished Service Medal.

RADM (ret.) Del Barth and his wife, Lucille, currently reside in Henderson, Nevada.

July 7, 2008

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