Heather M. Stapleton

Professor of Environmental Health

Professor Heather Stapleton is an environmental chemist and exposure scientist in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.  Her research interests focus on identification of halogenated and organophosphate chemicals in building materials, furnishings and consumer products, and estimation of human exposure, particularly in vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and children.  Her laboratory utilizes mass spectrometry, including targeted and nontargeted approaches, to characterize chemical burdens in both environmental samples and biological tissues to support environmental health research. Currently she serves as the Director for the Duke Superfund Research Center, and Director of the Duke Environmental Analysis Laboratory, which is part of NIH’s Human Health Environmental Analysis Resource.


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

Research Interests

  • Human exposure in indoor environments
  • Use of silicone wristbands to measure human exposure
  • Chemical exposures and cancer risk
  • Targeted & Nontargeted mass spectrometry methods applied to environmental samples
  • Effects of halogenated organic contaminants (e.g. BFRs, PFAS) on thyroid hormone regulation

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • Highly Cited Researcher in the field of Environment. Clarivate. 2021
  • Thomas Langford Lectureship Award. Duke University. 2020
  • Highly Cited Researcher. Clarivate. 2019
  • Best Paper of the Year Award. Environmental Science & Technology. 2011

Courses Taught

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

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Chen, Xinrong, Linda S. Birnbaum, Michael A. Babich, Jacob de Boer, Kimberly W. White, Stanley Barone, Cathy Fehrenbacher, and Heather M. Stapleton. “Opportunities in Assessing and Regulating Organohalogen Flame Retardants (OFRs) as a Class in Consumer Products.” Environmental Health Perspectives 132, no. 1 (January 2024): 15001. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp12725.
  • Overdahl, Kirsten E., Robert M. Tighe, Heather M. Stapleton, and P Lee Ferguson. “Investigating sensitization activity of azobenzene disperse dyes via the Direct Peptide Reactivity Assay (DPRA).” Food Chem Toxicol 182 (December 2023): 114108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fct.2023.114108.
  • Overdahl, Kirsten E., Christopher D. Kassotis, Kate Hoffman, Gordon J. Getzinger, Allison Phillips, Stephanie Hammel, Heather M. Stapleton, and P Lee Ferguson. “Characterizing azobenzene disperse dyes and related compounds in house dust and their correlations with other organic contaminant classes.” Environmental Pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) 337 (November 2023): 122491. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2023.122491.
  • Hall, Samantha M., Sharon Zhang, George H. Tait, Kate Hoffman, David N. Collier, Jane A. Hoppin, and Heather M. Stapleton. “PFAS levels in paired drinking water and serum samples collected from an exposed community in Central North Carolina.” The Science of the Total Environment 895 (October 2023): 165091. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.165091.
  • Samon, Samantha, Nicholas Herkert, Akhgar Ghassabian, Hongxiu Liu, Stephanie C. Hammel, Leonardo Trasande, Heather M. Stapleton, and Kate Hoffman. “Measuring semi-volatile organic compound exposures during pregnancy using silicone wristbands.” Chemosphere 339 (October 2023): 139778. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2023.139778.