Asbestos is the perfect model of a substance mined, industrially exploited and widely marketed as a miracle material without proper research into its long-term effects on health. Indeed, it went on being promoted long after it was recognised as dangerous.
The European Union finally outlawed the use of asbestos in January 2005, decades after the European Commission (EC) first recognised its link with cancer in 1962. The delay can be attributed entirely to lobbying from major asbestos cement companies, including the Belgian and Swiss Eternit groups , and to governmental inertia. Several European countries are currently taking legal action against company directors who gave their workers little or no information about the risks of exposure. In recent court cases leading industrialists continued to claim that they were unaware of the dangers.