The dirty truth about our money

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Money being placed in purse

We recently read an article in the European Cleaning Journal (November issue) about a rather unpleasant find… teamed up with London Metropolitan University to put your hard-earned cash under the microscope to discover the facts about how dirty money really is.

Dr Paul Matewele, Professor of Microbiology and his students took 36 samples from a random selection of British coins and notes in varying denominations and have found some interesting, if somewhat unpleasant, results. 

The scientists discovered 19 different bacteria across the British coins, plastic £5 and £10 notes and paper £20 and £50 notes. The bacteria found also included two life threatening bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Enterococcus faecium (VRE). Listeria was also found to be in existence on the money.

It would appear that cash is a breeding ground for bacteria, despite not being a material you’d think bacteria could survive on. The WHO (World Health Organisation) published a list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which pose the greatest threat to human life last year. Two of the bacteria found on the cash we’re using (MRSA and VRE) were found on that list.

Bacteria found on our coins: 

Bacteria On Coins

Bacteria found on our notes:

Bacteria On Notes

Some of the most common bacteria were Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), Enterococcus faecium, Listeria and bacteria that is commonly found in faeces.

MRSA can cause boils, impetigo, food poisoning, cellulitis and toxic shock syndrome. Enterococcus faecium can cause infections of the abdomen, skin, urinary tract and blood. Listeria can lead to infection that is usually caught by ingesting contaminated food, causing food poisoning and even miscarriage. This is all very shocking, but not something that many if any, would ever even think about.

Consider how many times you may have held that £10 note in between your lips or teeth while holding a few too many things at the till, or when you’ve been playing with a bunch of money that’s sat in your pocket and have then wiped your face or picked up some food to eat. It’s all quite a lot to think about.

Dr Paul Matewele said “…People who have compromised immune systems could be most at risk from handling dirty money - if you're visiting people in hospital who might be vulnerable to infection, you could unknowingly transfer bacteria off your cash which is resistant to antibiotics.”

Did you realise your money could be harbouring so much bacteria? Do you think this will push people more toward a cashless society? Let us know, or get in touch if you’ve got any other interesting facts about cleaning, bacteria or everyday life you’d like us to look into.

Original article, data, quote and facts from 

Category: News