‘On a very large proportion of chemicals in everyday use – we either know nothing about their toxicity or very little,’ Prof John Sumpter says

Humans and wildlife face escalating risks from potentially harmful chemical because the production of new compounds is outstripping capacity to test their toxicity, experts warned.

The warning comes from a panel of UK experts behind a review of scientific research on the effects of hormone-disrupting chemicals leaching into ecosystems from everyday items like medicines, detergents and flame retardants.

Commonly used products are causing male fish to turn females and building up in the bodies of whales and other large predators to levels which prevent them from reproducing entirely.

With more than 140,000 chemicals approved for regular use in the EU alone these issues are often only spotted when they have caused wildlife populations to collapse.

Even seemingly harmless chemicals approved as soaps in human use can have radically different properties when they break down in the environment.