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How Dirty is Money?

If you live in North America, the chances that you have touched money laced with drugs can be high.

According to studies, about 92% of US dollar bills have traces of cocaine on them. This is nearly 9 out of 10 bills currently circulating in the US and Canada. This gives a literal meaning to the term “dirty money.”

How Did the Research Go?

When we use physical cash, we rarely think of where it’s been or how dirty it is. But there have been researchers who have been curious about how filthy the money we use is.

Researchers were quite surprised to find out that there were many contaminants on objects we use daily. So a study was done to find out what was on US dollar bills.

In 2007, it was noted that 67% of banknotes were tainted with cocaine. While more recent studies showed that the percentage jumped up by almost 30%. The leader of the study, Yuegange Zuo, explains that the increase would only mean more Americans use illegal drugs. (Source: National Geographic)

How Did Cocaine Get on the Bills?

There can be quite a few reasons why cocaine would be found on money. The drug can get attached to the bill during the transactions or when people roll the bill to snort the cocaine. With the research results, the team aims to raise public awareness of the drug problems the country is currently facing.

The new finding could help raise public awareness about cocaine use and lead to greater emphasis on curbing the abuse.

Yuegang Zuo

(Source: National Geographic)

What Other Contaminants Can Be Found on Money?

The longer a bill stays in circulation, the more it comes into contact with other individuals carrying all sorts of nasty things. According to statistics, a $1 and $5 bill can get exchanged 110 times in one circulation. Larger notes are traded less frequently.

Bacteria can live for weeks on bills, especially considered where they’re kept: rolled up in a pants pocket, or folded into a wallet or purse, and sequestered in a nice, warm dark place where bacteria likes to grow.

Dr. Philip Tierno

There are several other contaminants found through testing frequently circulated bills. Here are some that would surprise you. (Source: Market Watch)

Cocaine and Other Drugs

Yes, you may be carrying trace amounts of different drugs in your wallet. As mentioned, there are about 92% of bills contaminated by illicit drugs. We’re talking about morphine, heroin, methamphetamine, and others.

Fecal Matter

A 2002 study published in the Southern Medical Journal stated that money could carry more germs than a toilet. The study showed that almost 95% of the bills tested contained microbes commonly found on feces.

Several Pathogenic Microorganisms

Aside from fecal germs, bills have shown high amounts of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms that can cause severe illness.

With this information at hand, we can definitely take necessary precautions on how to keep ourselves safe.

Wash your hands after handling money, and before you touch your face, your mouth, your eyes and your nose, or any abrasions on your skin, or before eating and drinking. The idea is to remember it’s dirty. You wouldn’t put money in your mouth, so don’t put your hands near your mouth after touching it.

Dr. Philip Tierno

(Source: Market Watch)

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