Late fees could be the least of your worries next time you borrow a book from the local library.
A Belgian professor borrowed the most popular books from a library in Antwerp and tested them for bacteria, microbes and other substances.
He discovered traces of cocaine across all of most borrowed books, with the copy of erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey even testing positive for the herpes virus.
The research was carried out by toxicologist professor Jan Tytgat from the Catholic University of Leuven.
He decided to test the most borrowed books from Antwerp lending library using bacteriology and toxicology tests.
Tytgat told Flanders News that the level of cocaine found on each book wasn’t enough to get readers of the borrowed book high, yet was significant enough to make them test positive for the drug.
The type of herpes virus was found on the copy of Fifty Shades of Grey was herpes simplex virus type 1 – a strain of herpes that causes cold sores.
The traces of herpes found on the copy of British author E.L James’ book were equally low enough not to cause any harm:
‘The levels found won’t have a pharmacological effect,’ explained Tytgat.
‘Your consciousness or behaviour won’t change as a result of reading the tomes,’ Tytgat continued.
The professors insisted that the traces were minimal, did not pose a public health risk and added it would be ‘impossible for people to contract it by touching the book.’
The findings were similar to research carried out by Brigham Young University in 2011.
Students found the most popular books in the university library were covered in between 25 and 40 per cent more microbes and bacteria than less popular books.
The erotic Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy divided opinion when it was launched two years ago because it detailed a love affair between a publishing graduate and a company CEO.
A number of scenes were erotic and involved sadomasochist acts which some readers found offensive.
Despite this, the book was rated the best-selling book of all time in a 2012 Telegraph poll and has sold more than 70 million copies worldwide.
The book is currently being adapted into a film directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, set to be released in February 2015 starring Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele alongside Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey.
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