Heather M. Stapleton


Associate Professor of Environmental Health

Dr. Stapleton's research focuses on understanding the fate and transformation of organic contaminants in aquatic systems and in indoor environments. Her main focus has been on the bioaccumulation and biotransformation of brominated flame retardants, and specifically polybrominated diphenyl ethers,(PBDEs). Her current research projects explore the routes of human exposure to flame retardant chemicals and examine the way these compounds are photodegraded and metabolized using mass spectrometry to identify breakdown products/metabolites. She uses both in vivo techniques with fish, and in vitro techniques with cell cultures to examine metabolism of this varied class of chemicals. Also of interest to Dr. Stapleton is the study of the fate of PBDEs in the environment which may lead to bioaccumulation in aquatic systems and examining their bioavailability under different environmental conditions.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Ronie-Richele Garcia-Johnson Distinguished Professor
  • Professor
  • Member of the Duke Cancer Institute

Contact Information

  • Office Location: 9 Circuit Drive, Box 90328, LSRC Room A207, Durham, NC 27710
  • Office Phone: (919) 613-8717
  • Email Address: heather.stapleton@duke.edu
  • Websites:


  • Ph.D. University of Maryland, College Park, 2003
  • M.S. University of Maryland, College Park, 2000
  • B.S. Long Island University, Southhampton College, 1997

Research Interests

Conducts research on human exposure to organic contaminants, particularly, flame retardants, phthalates, polyfluorinated alky substances (PFAS), and pesticides

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Highly Cited Researcher. Thomson Reuters. 2014

Courses Taught

  • CEE 563: Chemical Fate of Organic Compounds
  • CEE 563D: Chemical Fate of Organic Compounds
  • ENVIRON 360: Environmental Health: Pollutant Chemistry and Toxicology
  • ENVIRON 393: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 394: Research Independent Study
  • ENVIRON 540: Chemical Fate of Organic Compounds
  • ENVIRON 540D: Chemical Fate of Organic Compounds
  • ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects
  • ENVIRON 780: Environmental Exposure Analysis
  • ENVIRON 899: Master's Project

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Reddam, A; Herkert, N; Stapleton, HM; Volz, DC, Partial dust removal in vehicles does not mitigate human exposure to organophosphate esters., Environmental Research, vol 205 (2022) [10.1016/j.envres.2021.112525] [abs].
  • Wang, Z; Wade, AM; Richter, DD; Stapleton, HM; Kaste, JM; Vengosh, A, Legacy of anthropogenic lead in urban soils: Co-occurrence with metal(loids) and fallout radionuclides, isotopic fingerprinting, and in vitro bioaccessibility., The Science of the Total Environment, vol 806 no. Pt 3 (2022) [10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.151276] [abs].
  • Herkert, NJ; Kassotis, CD; Zhang, S; Han, Y; Pulikkal, VF; Sun, M; Ferguson, PL; Stapleton, HM, Characterization of Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances Present in Commercial Anti-fog Products and Their In Vitro Adipogenic Activity., Environmental Science & Technology (2022) [10.1021/acs.est.1c06990] [abs].
  • Kozlova, EV; Valdez, MC; Denys, ME; Bishay, AE; Krum, JM; Rabbani, KM; Carrillo, V; Gonzalez, GM; Lampel, G; Tran, JD; Vazquez, BM; Anchondo, LM; Uddin, SA; Huffman, NM; Monarrez, E; Olomi, DS; Chinthirla, BD; Hartman, RE; Kodavanti, PRS; Chompre, G; Phillips, AL; Stapleton, HM; Henkelmann, B; Schramm, K-W; Curras-Collazo, MC, Persistent autism-relevant behavioral phenotype and social neuropeptide alterations in female mice offspring induced by maternal transfer of PBDE congeners in the commercial mixture DE-71., Archives of Toxicology, vol 96 no. 1 (2022), pp. 335-365 [10.1007/s00204-021-03163-4] [abs].
  • Wise, CF; Hammel, SC; Herkert, NJ; Ospina, M; Calafat, AM; Breen, M; Stapleton, HM, Comparative Assessment of Pesticide Exposures in Domestic Dogs and Their Owners Using Silicone Passive Samplers and Biomonitoring., Environmental Science & Technology, vol 56 no. 2 (2022), pp. 1149-1161 [10.1021/acs.est.1c06819] [abs].