According to a recent study, the money we handle every day – notes and coins – are dirtier than the handrail on an escalator or a staircase, or a book you pick up at a library? So, if you do handle money at any time it is advisable to wash your hands afterwards.
In 2002, Southern Medical Journal published a study that found bacteria-laden paper money. Over 80% of cash tested carried germs harmful to people with lowered immunity. According to the study, 7% of bills showed traces of bacteria that cause serious illness, including Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia. Only 7% of the banknotes were germ-free.
According to SmartMoney.com, a study conducted in 2008 at Switzerland’s University Hospitals of Geneva found that some flu virus cells could last for up to 17 days on Swiss banknotes.
A study conducted by researchers at Oxford University concludes that paper money in Switzerland is among the dirtiest in Europe, second only to the money used in Sweden and Denmark. “Europeans’ perceptions of dirty cash are not without reason,” Ian Thompson, the professor from Oxford University who tested the cash, said in a news release. “The bank notes we tested harbored an average of 26,000 bacteria, which, for a number of pathogenic organisms, is enough for passing on infection.”
The study shows that Swiss banknotes – with denominations ranging from 10 to 1,000 francs – contain 32,400 bacteria. Even the newest, and therefore cleanest, notes tested contained 2,400 bacteria. The dirtiest currency was the Denmark krone with 40,226 bacteria followed by Swedish krona with 39,600.
According to the result of a survey released by MasterCard on March 25, 2013, almost 60% of the people in Europe believe banknotes and coins are the dirtiest items they can come into contact with daily: dirtier than escalator handrails, buttons on ATMs and payment terminals, and library books.
A credit card company like MasterCard may have its own economic interests in pushing people away from cash. “(The bacteria) comes from multiple hands,” MasterCard’s Hany Fam told CNN’s Richard Quest. “These notes have a long time in circulation, they’re handed, hand to hand, from different people, and it’s inevitable that germs accumulate on them… No, I’m not just advocating credit cards: I’m just saying that consumers are increasingly flocking to other forms of payment – not only for cleanliness, obviously, but for ease, for convenience, for lots of reasons.“
- Swiss money really is dirty: UK scientists (thelocal.ch)
- More than half of Brits fear germ risk from filthy money – with good reason (metro.co.uk)
- Dirty money? Check your wallet (cnn.com)