Local News

Apr 28, 2014 2:47 PM by Sara Donchey

Thousands of Bacteria Found on Dollar Bills

CORPUS CHRISTI -- The next time you handle cash, picture this: three thousand different kinds of bacteria--crawling all over your dollar bill.

According to a new study out of New York University, that's not science fiction, it's fact.

Dr. Gregory Buck is a microbiologist at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.

He researches bacteria in his lab much like the kind found on 80 one-dollar bills in the study.

Researchers found all kinds of bacteria, including the stuff that causes acne.

It also found bacteria that causes flesh-eating MRSA, and other bacteria that thrives in people's genitals.

So is paying for gum at the grocery store a health risk?

Dr. Gregory buck acknowledged that yes, money could in fact make you sick.

The problem lies in what our money is made of.

"Fibers--cotton fibers--on this bill act the same way as this agar," Dr. Buck said. "And the ager is like Jell-O gelatin. And that's normally what we grow our bacteria on."

Other countries, like Canada, use polymer to make their cash.

Which Dr. Buck says grows less bacteria, but the bacteria that does grow, stays on the money longer.

"So it's a toss-up," Dr. Buck said. "I mean, you're caught between the frying pan and the fire."

In winter months, researchers even found bacteria on dollar bills that causes Pneumonia, suggesting money really could spread illness.

So what can we do to stop it?

"After handling cash, wash your hands, or use hand sanitizer," Dr. Buck said. "That's really the bottom line."

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