Toxicologists from a number of UK universities have said they believe that in the intense lobbying which has accompanied the drawing up of new European chemical regulations, REACH, environmental NGOs have been guilty of over-playing the health risks posed by hazardous substances currently in the environment.

In a series of interviews with the BBC, toxicologists claimed that a number of highly emotive reports published by NGOs – such as the WWF’s study into the number of toxic chemicals found in the umbilical cords of newborn infants – are misleading the public about health risks.

The toxicologists agreed that while phthalates, brominated flame retardants and other hazardous chemicals were a potential danger, it was the concentration, not simply their presence, which ought to be considered when assessing risk.

And, in many of the studies published by anti-toxics campaigners, the levels of chemicals had either been ignored or were perfectly safe.

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie