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Your Money is Dirtier Than You Think

September 11, 2009 | By: Robert | Comments ( 0 ) | Posted in: Offbeat

Everyone knows money is full of bacteria. In fact, it's downright filthy. In their lifetime, bills and coins get passed around thousands of times. But exactly how dirty is it?


Here in the States, it's pretty bad. When researchers at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio tested a random sampling of dollar bills, they found that 94% of the bills were contaminated with bacteria known to cause either serious or mild illness. Whether or not swine flu can be transmitted through money is not yet known.



If you carry cash in your wallet, you're carrying cocaine too--a trace amount, that is. Several studies have shown that nearly all U.S. paper currency contains trace amounts of cocaine. The more worn a bill is, the more cocaine it contains. Most bills change hands thousands of times and, in many cases, they make their way into foreign countries--from California to Mexico to the United Kingdom and back.


Americans aren't the only ones with germy money, though. Here are some dirty money facts from around the world:

  • In northeastern India, disease experts have warned that soiled, overused money could potentially transmit serious diseases like tuberculosis. Tourists in the region are advised to wash their hands following every financial transaction. (Book your honeymoon plans today!)

  • In Japan, "clean" ATMs sanitize currency by pressing it for one-tenth of a second at 392 degrees Fahrenheit. This kills most of the harmful bacteria.

  • During the SARS outbreak, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China instituted a policy of holding money for 24 hours before putting it back into circulation to allow the germs to die.



    The good news? Coins are usually clean. Hard, dry metals are not hospitable to bacteria, and most metals have antibacterial activity--especially copper. Pennies are the cleanest.


    To avoid handling germ-infested money, buy items online. That way you won't need to let a gross cashier person slather their nasty hand germs all over your credit card when they swipe it. Just sit back, relax and wait for the package to arrive. Don't forget to wipe down the doorbell with rubbing alcohol after the UPS guy leaves, though.

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