3 Gross Facts About Money That Will Make You Sick

Man holding wallet with cash.

Open wallet filled with money | Source: iStock

We have some money advice for you: you may want to start placing your cash in the washing machine. Several research studies confirm what you may have guessed all along: your money is filthy. In some instances, touching money is just as dirty as touching a public toilet. University of Gondar researcher Agersew Alemu said part of the reason money harbors and transmits so many pathogens is because most of us don’t take the time to practice good hygiene before, during, and after coming in contact with money.

An individual living in unhygienic conditions having unhygienic habits will contaminate the notes with bacteria and these notes will act as a vehicle delivering bacteria to contaminate the hands of the next user. Improper hand washing after using the toilet, counting paper notes using saliva, coughing and sneezing on hands then exchanging money, and placement or storage of paper notes on dirty surfaces leads to the contamination and these notes will act as a vehicle delivering bacteria to contaminate the hands of the next user. The money makes for easy transfer of microorganisms and thus cross contamination.

Here are some truly gross things about money. Don’t eat before reading this.

1. Poop is among us

If you don’t wash your hands after handling money, you may want to rethink that decision. Research has found most money contains fecal matter and other potentially pathogenic organisms. A study published in Southern Medical Journal reported the presence of disease-causing agents in about 94% of the bills tested. Furthermore, another study found approximately one in 10 bank cards contain fecal bacteria. When the hands of research participants were studied, more than 26% showed traces of fecal germs such as E. coli. So if you’re wondering what that smell is, it might be the money in your wallet.

2. Your wallet is a petri dish

Man pulling money out of jacket pocket

Man taking money | iStock

As if fecal matter isn’t bad enough, studies have also shown that plenty of bacteria can be found on money. Researchers at New York University uncovered the existence of thousands of microbes on cash analyzed during a study called the Dirty Money Project, an analysis of the DNA on dollar bills. Roughly 3,000 types of bacteria are resting comfortably on your cash. In addition, more than 1.2 million DNA segments were found. “Easily the most abundant species they found is one that causes acne. Others were linked to gastric ulcers, pneumonia, food poisoning and staph infections…Some carried genes responsible for antibiotic resistance,” reported The Wall Street Journal.

Another study conducted by microbiology students at St. Petersburg College discovered 50% of credit cards in their sample tested positive for MRSA (also known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Unfortunately, in the ideal environment, your credit card could cause your death. “If it has the right type of microbe with the right type of virulence factors in a person who is immuno-compromised, possibly so,” lead researcher Shannon McQuaig told CreditCards.com.

3. Dirt is preferred

Do you have a bunch of old, dirty-looking bills in your wallet? You’re more likely to reach for the ugly cash first. Despite some of the disgusting things that can be found on our cash, consumers are more likely to spend money that looks worn and dirty. “…People want to rid themselves of worn bills because they are disgusted by the contamination from others, whereas people put a premium on crisp currency because they take pride in owning bills that can be spent around others,” said researchers Fabrizio Di Muro and Theodore J. Noseworthy. Although the new, crisp cash is suitable to take out in front of your friends, you’re more likely to save those clean bills for later so that you can spend all of your grimy cash first.

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