Human Exposure Research

Flame retardants (FRs) are a class of chemicals that are added to materials and a variety of consumer goods to prevent the start of, and delay the spread of fire after ignition. They have been used in polymers (synthetic materials), since the 1960’s, and are added to everything from household furnishings, to electronics, to building materials. These products are chemically treated with FRs to meet state and federal flammability standards and regulations. FRs have many different compositions and have been proven to be persistent, bioaccumulative, and/or toxic to humans, animals, and the environment.

Dr. Stapleton's early research focused on the fate and transformation of organic contaminants on aquatic systems, but her more recent research has focused on FR impacts in the indoor environment and human exposure routes. Her lab has conducted research using halogenated flame retardants such as, OPFRs, OPEs, TCPP, PBDEs and the metabolites of each. Since 2011, the Stapleton Lab at Duke has been studying FRs and their link to adverse health effects such as thyroid disruption, reproductive toxicity, cancer, child and fetal development, and neurological function. Our group has particular interest in early life exposures and has pioneered multiple studies where, using high-resolution mass spectrometry, we have analyzed house dust, air, blood, urine, stool samples, and placenta tissue to measure exposure levels of FRs in children and mothers.

Please visit our publications page to find journals from Stapleton lab members regarding our flame retardant research. And for more information about FRs, please check out this Factsheet from the National Institute of Health.

Click each heading below to find out more about our FR research

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