What has the Daily Mirror been snorting?
In a story already going viral, the Mirror reports that traces of cocaine were found on the surface of a toilet cistern just "yards away" from the hospital ward where Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, is expected to give birth to the next royal baby any day now.
There are a few reasons you might not want to get excited.
The traces of cocaine were found in a wing of St. Mary’s Hospital where the duchess is not staying -- not on "Kate Middleton's hospital toilet," as the Mirror headline claims. The duchess is in a separate maternity ward.
Reporter Martin Bagot conducted the cocaine test by himself, with an over-the-counter, drug-testing surface wipe. The results haven't been confirmed by a lab, the Mirror reports.
And, perhaps most important of all, traces of cocaine can be found on every public surface you touch.
A 2011 study, conducted in the New Haven, Connecticut, metro area, also used cocaine-detecting surface wipes and found that 35 of 45 public surfaces tested had traces of cocaine. According to the study:
Fuel pump buttons (for credit card authorization) caused 100% positive results. Ten different service stations were tested. Similarly, ATM machines for cash withdrawal resulted in a 100% positive rate. From shopping carts, there were seven out of 10 positives (70%). Academic building entrance doors showed the lowest positive frequency at 30%. Shopping mall entrance/exit doors tested positive in every instance.
In fact, you don't have to search further than your own pocket or purse to find traces of cocaine. A 2009 study found that 90 percent of all U.S. currency has traces of cocaine, according to CNN.
What other harmful substances can be found on our money? CNN reported:
Disease-causing organisms such as staphylococcus aureus and pneumonia-causing bacteria have been detected in paper bills. According to a 2002 study published in the Southern Medical Journal, 94 percent of the tested bills had potentially disease-causing organisms.
Adam Negrusz, an associate professor of forensic sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he isn't worried about the cleanliness of money in terms of public health.
"I never think about this as a source of danger. We have more things which can be potentially harmful," said Negrusz, who was not involved in [the 2009] study.
Tabloids in the United Kingdom have a history of exaggerating the facts or running with news tips without verification. But even the tabloids know the "Kate Middleton's toilet" story is ridiculous. In 2011, The Telegraph reported that cocaine could be found on nine out of 10 baby changing stations in public toilets. That could be more worrisome for the royal baby -- if the baby's diapers are ever changed in a public toilet.
Really, Daily Mirror, why not go the whole nine yards? Run headlines like "WHITE HOUSE INDEED! Cocaine Found Yards Away From Obama's Office" or "Cocaine Found Just Inches Away From This Reporter's Nose."
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