Have you ever stopped to think how many people have touched your cash before stuffing it into your pocket? Most of use probably realise that cash isn’t the most hygienic, unless it goes through the wash with your jeans, but did you know it could be carrying pathogenic and drug resistant bacteria. This is of course not a new problem as Nisbet and Skeoch pointed out this issue originally in 1949.
There are many factors that can effect how many and the types of organisms on your cash. Some of these include where you live, the season, the type of money (coin or note) and what material the cash is made of. How contaminated your cash is may also depend on the value. Often lower value notes such as £5 and £10 are more contaminated due to their far more frequent use. Studies have found that from 53 to 100% of cash is contaminated, this number is likely closer to the 100 mark than 53 however.
The list of bacteria’s that cash can carry is rather large but to name some of the worst there is E-coli, K.pneumoniae and Salmonella. Most of the bacteria carried on cash is non-pathogenic and doesn’t require attention. However the like of Klebsiella pneumoniae can do serious damage to those who have weakened immune systems.
There are a number of high tech / cost solutions to this problem, including disinfecting money with UV-light, chemicals or even supersonic means. However for now the best option is to make sure you stay hygienic. Disinfectant continues to work after is has been applied to protect you from bacteria. As developed economies become more reliant on electronic means of transaction this problem may become null and void for a lot of us anyway.