The Dirty Situation of U.S. Currency
Posted by The Situationist Staff on August 21, 2009
Madison Park of CNN.com has an interesting piece on potentially harmful substances commonly found on currency. We excerpt it below.
* * *
In the course of its average 20 months in circulation, U.S. currency gets whisked into ATMs, clutched, touched and traded perhaps thousands of times at coffee shops, convenience stores and newsstands. And every touch to every bill brings specks of dirt, food, germs or even drug residue.
Research presented this weekend reinforced previous findings that 90 percent of paper money circulating in U.S. cities contains traces of cocaine.
“When I was a young kid, my mom told me the dirtiest thing in the world is money,” said the researcher, Yuegang Zuo, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. “Mom is always right.”
Scientists say the amount of cocaine found on bills is not enough to cause health risks.
* * *
For years, health agencies have advised people to wash their hands after touching cash for sanitary reasons. 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 Zuo’s study.
* * *