Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Filthy Lucre

BrooklynDodger has noticed parking lot attendents and toll takers wearing surgical gloves. The Dodger has also heard that casino employees are concerned about things people do to money [for good luck] before putting it into a slot machine.

These two papers, from Egypt and Ohio confirm that there are cultural bacteria on monetary surfaces. Perhaps an analytical study comparing coins to paper currency, and pennies to quarters would extend the range of our knowledge.

Using gloves to protect is a distinctly incomplete solution. Say the gloves are contaminated. The first glove is removed by a gloved hand. The gloved hand is protected. The second glove is removed by ... the ungloved hand. To reduce this problem, the user could wash the gloved hands before removing the gloves. But then, why not just wash the hands?

The primary purpose of gloves in the health care setting is reducing patient to patient transmission by a readily observable behavior.

It's certainly plausible that the gloves would reduce hand to mouth transmission of money borne microorganisms. But the microbes are like carcinogens - an exposure response relationship with no plausible threshold [below a single microbe or molecule.]


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A preliminary bacterial study of Egyptian paper money

El-Din El-Dars, Farida 1; HASSAN, Wael 1

International Journal of Environmental Health Research, June 2005, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 235-240

The objective of this study was to investigate the extent of contamination of some of the most used paper denominations of the Egyptian currency (25 PT). Sixty-nine bills in circulation were collected from November 2003 through January 2004. A swab from each bill was cultured on nutrient agar and incubated at 37°C for 48?h. Results showed that over 65% of these bills had a bacterial count above 5.0?cm 2 . A preliminary identification of organisms present on these paper notes was done using selected Petri dishes with well-defined colonies.


South Med J. 2002 Dec;95(12):1408-10.

Bacterial contamination of paper currency.

Pope TW, Ender PT, Woelk WK, Koroscil MA, Koroscil TM.Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Wright-Patterson Medical Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433-5529, USA.

One-dollar bills were collected from the general community in western Ohio to survey for bacterial contamination. Pathogenic or potentially pathogenic organisms were isolated from 94% of the bills. These results suggest a high rate of bacterial contamination of one-dollar bills.

1 comment:

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