Housewives’ favorite guilty pleasure may come at a price, as Belgian researchers discover traces of drugs and sexually-transmitted diseases in a copy of "Fifty Shades of Grey" in Antwerp library.
Toxicology professor Jan Tytgat from the Catholic University of Leuven, who ran chemical tests on the library's 10 most-borrowed books, said most of us should not worry.
Metro: Why were you doing this test?
Tytgat: We were approached by a TV production house, who were curious to know if there was evidence of micro-organisms or psychotropic substances in public libraries. It made me think, because we know there is cocaine on every US $100 bill, and even on the surface of rivers, so it could have been a risk on children’s books.
So we should stay away from books?
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The message is very much that it’s still good to go to libraries. There is 100% evidence for cocaine but of no toxicological consequence, and the same for the bacteria – there is no danger.
But why is it there?
Hygiene is one reason, if people don’t take care. Also, where books are stored can expose them to contamination.
Is there much variety across the books? Surely the Bible is clean?
The level in children’s books was similar to erotic thrillers – it would have been nice to test the Bible but we didn’t.
So this is all totally fine then?
I would worry about athletes, as the doping agencies have a zero tolerance approach, but modern toxicologists can find a needle in a haystack. If you have contact with books this can leave traces of substance in your system. In the absence of ‘cut off’ levels that we have in other disciplines, this could ruin careers.