We are handling dirty money everyday – literally! Paper bills and coins change hands every day, and thus become the perfect vector for bacteria, viruses and other bugs that can cause diseases. A research study investigated which money is the dirtiest. The Hong Kong City College Bacteria Research Center checked paper money from Hong Kong, China, India, Pakistan, Cambodia, the Philippines and Korea. The results showed that the Chinese bills won the title of being the dirtiest currency hands down. RMB or CNY or Renminbi in Chinese can be literally translated as people’s money. The test showed that the bills can contain:
- as many as 37 million bacteria per bill
- 10 strains of pathogenic bacteria, including colon bacilli, streptococcus and salmonella
- hepatitis B virus (HBV)
The presence of these pathogens in the bills presents a major health risks for people who handle money in their jobs such as cashiers and bank tellers. In fact, the research uncovered the fact that the incidence of hepatitis infection among cashiers was 6 times higher compared to other people.
Chinese authorities are troubled about these results due to
- Adverse effect on the people’s health.
- Adverse effect on the country’s image.
Health experts are especially concerned about the presence of colon bacilli in the sample bills because these bacterial strains indicate fecal contamination, e.g. contact with human excreta. According to HubPages:
We have to be aware that it is not only Chinese money that is dirty. Regardless of the type of currency, handling money is handling something dirty. However, despite electronic banking and other types of moneyless payment systems, we cannot do without money. However, there is something we can do to minimize our risk of getting ill from pathogens we might get in contact with. Here are some things that I do and I train my kids to do:
- Washing hands is the way to go.
- Wash hands after using the toilet.
- Coming from outdoors, wash hands immediately when coming indoors.
- Wash hands before and after eating – even in restaurants.
You cannot launder your money but you sure can keep your hands clean!