Insurers face a possible claims "timebomb" from chemicals found in household products, a leading lawyer has warned.

A recent report by Greenpeace and WWF-UK has exposed a risk to unborn children from chemicals in products such as perfume, non-stick pans and flame-retardants. The chemicals are suspected of causing birth defects, such as genital abnormalities and cancer.

Marie-Claire di Mambro, product liability partner at law firm Kennedy's, said although determining a link between these ailments and identifying which companies were responsible would be problematic, the insurance industry still needed to be wary.

"It is a worry for product manufacturers and chemical companies. It could be a time bomb waiting to explode."

She said these factors, combined with media exposure of the issue and a push for new EU legislation to make producers responsible for the effects of chemicals was reason enough for insurers to be cautious.

An ABI spokesman said insurers needed to make certain their clients had good risk management plans.