Heather M. Stapleton

Ronie-Richele Garcia-Johnson Distinguished Professor

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:


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

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

  • Crute, Christine E., Samantha M. Hall, Chelsea D. Landon, Angela Garner, Jeffrey I. Everitt, Sharon Zhang, Bevin Blake, et al. “Evaluating maternal exposure to an environmental per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) mixture during pregnancy: Adverse maternal and fetoplacental effects in a New Zealand White (NZW) rabbit model.” Sci Total Environ 838, no. Pt 4 (September 10, 2022): 156499. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.156499.
  • Hammel, Stephanie C., Shila Nordone, Sharon Zhang, Amelia M. Lorenzo, Brian Eichner, M Anthony Moody, Lynn Harrington, et al. “Infants' diminished response to DTaP vaccine is associated with exposure to organophosphate esters.” Sci Total Environ 837 (September 1, 2022): 155782. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155782.
  • Levasseur, Jessica L., Kate Hoffman, Nicholas J. Herkert, Ellen Cooper, Duncan Hay, and Heather M. Stapleton. “Characterizing firefighter's exposure to over 130 SVOCs using silicone wristbands: A pilot study comparing on-duty and off-duty exposures.” The Science of the Total Environment 834 (August 2022): 155237. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.155237.
  • Habre, Rima, David C. Dorman, Jonathan Abbatt, William P. Bahnfleth, Ellison Carter, Delphine Farmer, Gillian Gawne-Mittelstaedt, et al. “Why Indoor Chemistry Matters: A National Academies Consensus Report.” Environmental Science & Technology 56, no. 15 (August 2022): 10560–63. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.2c04163.
  • Pétré, M. -. A., K. R. Salk, H. M. Stapleton, P. L. Ferguson, G. Tait, D. R. Obenour, D. R. U. Knappe, and D. P. Genereux. “Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in river discharge: Modeling loads upstream and downstream of a PFAS manufacturing plant in the Cape Fear watershed, North Carolina.” The Science of the Total Environment 831 (July 2022): 154763. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.154763.