Doctors and cancer researchers have renewed calls for REACH to phase out toxic chemicals believed to cause illness. But arguments persist that the effects of tiny levels of exposure are still largely unknown.

Pr. Dominique Belpomme, chairman of the French cancer research organisation ARTAC was in Parliament with other scientists and MEPs on 18 October to warn about "the serious dangers" that chemical pollution represents to humans.

In the past 20 years, the cancer rate among newborn babies has risen by a steady 1% every year, Belpomme pointed out, saying fetuses are exposed to "hundreds of chemicals" in the womb.

"It is obvious [that the rise in cancers] is due to chemical pollution", Belpomme said. He singled out formaldehyde, a chemical used in plywood and carpets, and brominated flame retardants used in consumer electronics as two main culprits.

"Today …children are no longer the only ones at risk: the whole human race itself is in danger," said Belpomme, the leading scientist behind the Paris Appeal, a petition which calls for the phase out of toxic chemicals.

Since it was launched in 2004, the petition has claimed backing from numerous international scientists, Nobel Prize winners, 1,000 NGOs and 250,000 individual citizens.

They are calling on EU lawmakers to support REACH, the draft EU law that seeks to screen around 30,000 existing chemical substances for health and environmental safety.

"Doctors and scientists … firmly reiterate the necessity to reinforce REACH and regret that the Council decisions were made without consulting doctors and scientific experts," the signatories write.

"They urge the Parliament members to decide beyond traditional political splits, as the sanitary situation has become extremely serious in terms of cancer and reprotoxicity."