Sex Specific Placental Accumulation and Behavioral Effects of Developmental Firemaster 550 Exposure in Wistar Rats.


Firemaster® 550 (FM 550) is a commercial flame retardant mixture of brominated and organophosphate compounds applied to polyurethane foam used in furniture and baby products. Due to widespread human exposure, and structural similarities with known endocrine disruptors, concerns have been raised regarding possible toxicity. We previously reported evidence of sex specific behavioral effects in rats resulting from developmental exposure. The present study expands upon this prior finding by testing for a greater range of behavioral effects, and measuring the accumulation of FM 550 compounds in placental tissue. Wistar rat dams were orally exposed to FM 550 during gestation (0, 300 or 1000 µg/day; GD 9 - 18) for placental measurements or perinatally (0, 100, 300 or 1000 µg/day; GD 9 - PND 21) to assess activity and anxiety-like behaviors. Placental accumulation was dose dependent, and in some cases sex specific, with the brominated components reaching the highest levels. Behavioral changes were predominantly associated with a loss or reversal of sex differences in activity and anxiety-like behaviors. These findings demonstrate that environmental chemicals may sex-dependently accumulate in the placenta. That sex-biased exposure might translate to sex-specific adverse outcomes such as behavioral deficits is a possibility that merits further investigation.






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Baldwin, Kylie R, Allison L Phillips, Brian Horman, Sheryl E Arambula, Meghan E Rebuli, Heather M Stapleton and Heather B Patisaul (2017). Sex Specific Placental Accumulation and Behavioral Effects of Developmental Firemaster 550 Exposure in Wistar Rats. Sci Rep, 7(1). p. 7118. 10.1038/s41598-017-07216-6 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Heather M. Stapleton

Ronie-Richele Garcia-Johnson Distinguished Professor

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.


Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.