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: +1 919 613 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

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

In the News

Representative Publications

  • Hoffman, Kate, Xuening Tang, Ellen M. Cooper, Stephanie C. Hammel, Andreas Sjodin, Allison L. Phillips, Thomas F. Webster, and Heather M. Stapleton. “Children's exposure to brominated flame retardants in the home: The TESIE study.” Environmental Pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) 352 (July 2024): 124110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2024.124110.
  • Leuthner, Tess C., Sharon Zhang, Brendan F. Kohrn, Heather M. Stapleton, and L Ryan Baugh. “Structure-specific variation in per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances toxicity among genetically diverse Caenorhabditis elegans strains.” BioRxiv, June 2, 2024. https://doi.org/10.1101/2024.05.29.596269.
  • Reddam, Aalekhya, Nicholas Herkert, Heather M. Stapleton, and David C. Volz. “Silicone wristbands reveal ubiquitous human exposure to ortho-phthalates and non-ortho-phthalate plasticizers in Southern California.” Environmental Research 258 (June 2024): 119465. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2024.119465.
  • Samon, Samantha M., Kate Hoffman, Nicholas Herkert, and Heather M. Stapleton. “Chemical uptake into silicone wristbands over a five day period.” Environmental Pollution (Barking, Essex : 1987) 349 (May 2024): 123877. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2024.123877.
  • Hoehn, Rebecca M., Lydia G. Jahl, Nicholas J. Herkert, Kate Hoffman, Anna Soehl, Miriam L. Diamond, Arlene Blum, and Heather M. Stapleton. “Flame Retardant Exposure in Vehicles Is Influenced by Use in Seat Foam and Temperature.” Environmental Science & Technology 58, no. 20 (May 2024): 8825–34. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.3c10440.