CHE-Alaska Teleconference: Recorded February 13, 2013

Download the presentation slides and click play to listen to the podcast.

Heather Stapleton presentation slides (PDF)

About the call:

A recent peer-reviewed study by Duke University tested over 100 polyurethane foam samples from couches across the US and found that 85% contained potentially toxic or untested flame retardants. As these chemicals are released from our furniture in the form of microscopic dust, we inhale and ingest them constantly. Many flame retardants raise health concerns, including cancer, hormone disruption and harmful effects on brain development. The study found an increase in the use of flame retardants in newer couches, despite no data demonstrating fire safety benefit from their use.

On this call, lead author of the study, Dr. Heather M. Stapleton, discussed he study’s findings and health effects of toxic flame retardants, and Pamela K. Miller, executive director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, provided an update on what’s happening at the state, federal and international levels to halt exposure to toxic flame retardants. We also discuss how these chemicals are accumulating in the Arctic and how they might affect human and environmental health.


Heather M. Stapleton, PhD, associate professor of Environmental Chemistry, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University. Dr. Stapleton’s experience lies in the fate and transformation of organic contaminants in aquatic systems and indoor environments. Her research focuses on several types of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and brominated flame retardants, with a focus on polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).

Pamela K. Miller, Executive Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics