Money may look innocuous, but research has revealed that it is a breeding ground for bacteria. Scientists at New York University, who delved into the intricate microscopic world of one-dollar bills, have successfully identified 3,000 different species of bacteria, which may be lingering amongst your wad of cash. From the common food contaminant, Escherichia coli, to the gastric ulcer trigger, Helicobacter pylori, it is all too clear there is more to your money than meets the eye.
While the work of New York University’s researchers has hit the headlines all over the world, it is not the first time that scientists have been concerned about the health implications of dirty money.
Hygienists have been aware of the problem since as far back as the early 20th century, when Dr Thomas Darlington, New York’s then Commissioner of Health, conducted experiments with bacteria on circulating bills and coins. After learning about the severely soiled state of bank notes, central bankers have been adhering to Dr Darlington’s noteworthy advice ever since, removing 150,000 tonnes of dirty bank notes every year, while introducing around 150 billion replacement notes every year at a cost just short of $10 billion.
Is Plastic Money a Solution?
Due to longstanding concerns about the durability and cleanliness of banknotes, many countries, including the United Kingdom and Canada, are set to make the switch to plastic bank notes.
However, researchers from the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands have warned that plastic bank notes may harbor more germs than their cotton-based counterparts. Consequently, the cleanliness of money is likely to pose an issue for many decades to come.
What You Can Do
If, like hygienists across the globe, you are concerned about the health implications of handling dirty money, you should practice basic hand hygiene by washing your hands often with soap and cleaning running water.
It is important to remember, however, that basic hand hygiene will not protect you from re-contamination. Everyone uses money, and if money is dirty, then everything you touch must be dirty, too. While it is impossible to avoid germs altogether, you can take steps to prevent bacteria from accumulating on much-used, commonly shared implements, such as dirty pens.
By using the Cleanpen from Cleanint, you can eliminate germs from dirty pens and other writing implements, thereby reducing your chances of picking up a bacterial or viral infection.