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What’s in Your Wallet? A Whole Lot of Germs

Posted By Candy Sagon On April 25, 2014 @ 3:49 pm In Health Talk | Comments Disabled

Wallet with cash [1]Open your wallet. Pull out a dollar bill. You’ve just touched more than 3,000 bacteria [2] that have been linked to stomach ulcers [3], acne, pneumonia [4] and staph infections.

(Thinking about using that plastic credit card more often now?)

These kinds of microbes, which are found on many surfaces [5], are transferred when we touch things. Money, in particular, gets handed around a lot, say researchers with New York University’s aptly named Dirty Money Project.

>> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter [6]

The researchers, who are looking at ways disease-causing microbes [7] get spread in our communities, analyzed the genetic material on 80 one-dollar bills that they collected from a Manhattan bank. By using gene sequencing to identify the DNA, they identified many more kinds of bacteria than previous studies in which cells were examined under a microscope.

The results were “quite amazing to us,” Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing at NYU’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, told the Wall Street Journal. [8] “We actually found that microbes grow on money.”

Adding to the problem: People tend to lick their fingers when counting money, she noted. And the absorbent cotton-linen blend paper used to make American bills may act like a germ incubator [9].

>> Get discounts on health services with your AARP Member Advantages. [10]

That may be why other countries are starting to use a flexible plastic polymer film for their currency. Some studies show the plastic doesn’t retain as much bacteria, although research published last year [11] in the journal Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control suggested just the opposite.

Suffice it to say, you need to practice good hygiene habits [12] after handling cash. Wash your hands or use sanitizer. Don’t lick your fingers to count it.

And for goodness sake, don’t put your money where your mouth is.

Photo: kcpetersen/iStock [13]

 

Also of Interest

 

See the AARP home page [18] for deals, savings tips, trivia and more

 


Article printed from AARP: http://blog.aarp.org

URL to article: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/04/25/whats-in-your-wallet-a-whole-lot-of-germs/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://blog.aarp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/iStock_000006138156Small.jpg

[2] bacteria: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/12/17/are-antibacterial-soaps-safe-fda-finally-may-decide/?intcmp=AE-BLIL-BL

[3] ulcers: http://healthtools.aarp.org/learning-center/featured/stomach-ulcer?lcStart=1?intcmp=AE-BLIL-DOTORG

[4] pneumonia: http://healthtools.aarp.org/health/pneumonia?intcmp=AE-BLIL-DOTORG

[5] many surfaces: http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-03-2011/8-germiest-places.html

[6] >> Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter: http://www.aarp.org/online-community/people/subscribeFromEmail.action?id=19061&intcmp=ILC-EMAIL-SUB-HLTH

[7] disease-causing microbes: http://www.aarp.org/home-garden/home-improvement/info-03-2011/germs-in-your-house.html

[8] Wall Street Journal.: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303456104579489510784385696

[9] germ incubator: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/01/24/your-cellphone-has-more-germs-than-your-toilet/

[10] >> Get discounts on health services with your AARP Member Advantages.: http://discounts.aarp.org/category/supercategory/categoryId/724/subCategoryId/726/uSource/HCTN?intcmp=AE-BL-HEA-DISC

[11] research published last year: http://www.aricjournal.com/content/2/1/22

[12] hygiene habits: http://blog.aarp.org/2012/04/05/how-often-do-you-change-your-sheets-and-other-must-dos/

[13] kcpetersen/iStock: http://www.istockphoto.com/user_view.php?id=2252028

[14] What Sleeping Position Reveals About a Relationship: http://blog.aarp.org/2014/04/23/relationship-test-how-close-do-you-sleep/?intcmp=AE-ENDART1-BL-REL

[15] Top 10 Money Wasters: Don’t Spend On These: http://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-2014/more-consumer-spending-regrets-photo.html#slide1?intcmp=AE-ENDART2-BL-BOS

[16] Fight Fraud and ID Theft With the AARP Fraud Watch Network.: http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network/?intcmp=AE-BL-ENDART-ADV-FWN

[17] Join AARP: https://appsec.aarp.org/MSS/join/application?keycode=U9ZTPH9&intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-MEM

[18] AARP home page: http://www.aarp.org/?intcmp=AE-ENDART3-BL-HP

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