Every time I visit the met, I kiss a quarter and toss it in the water at the Temple of Dendur. I know money is filthy, but I've been doing it since I was 5 and tradition is hard to break. I think this new research out of NYU might finally get me to stop โ€“ or at the very least lead me to start giving it a quick purell first.

Researchers at the aptly named Dirty Money Project found thousands of bacteria living on US currency. They analyzed the genetic material found on 80 $1 bills withdrawn from a Manhattan bank and, through rapid sequencing and the availability of an extensive database of DNA, they were able to identify more than 3,000 types of bacteria.

These are not obscure germs either. You've heard of the bacteria or, at the very least, the things they cause โ€“ skin infections and acne (staph aureus), food poisoning (E Coli, B Cereus*), gastric ulcrers (H Pylori), and diphtheria. Some of them were even antibiotic resistant variants. The best part? Only 20% of the bacteria found were identifiable through the catalogue. That's a whole lot of remaining bacteria

For the record, the remaining DNA identified came from humans, dogs, horses, and the white rhino (no explanation was offered, but whatever they come up with can't possibly be as cool as the Babar type scenario that I have concocted in my head).

This finding is not new, but it does reinforce the fact that dollar bills are completely disgusting and an alternative should be sought because dollar bills are completely disgusting. If anyone at the treasury is reading this, I recommend the mobile payments structure utilized in several Africa countries. Also, that people should wash their hands more.


I switched to credit cards a while back because I was tempted by the rewards points, but I think those commercials should start toting the health benefits as well.

[via the WSJ]

*yes, that's a real bacteria