Report: Your Paper Money Is Loaded With Germs

| by Michael Allen
Twenty dollar billsTwenty dollar bills

It may come as a shock to some people that their paper money is teeming with harmful germs.

“A bank note in many ways is like a petri dish,” Nabil Lawandy, CEO of Spectra Systems, told

Spectra Systems manufactures Aeris, a machine that can clean about 120,000 paper bills every 30 minutes. The Aeris machine also removes “fatty acids, triglycerides, toxic substances… and all forms of bacteria, including spores, which are pretty resilient viruses.”

“Money… that’s how germs move around, one person to the next,” Chuck Gerba, an environmental microbiologist, said.

“You’re actually coming in contact with other people’s germs all the time that you’ve never met… and will never know,” Gerba added.

Hank Eskin, the creator of, a website that tracks how money travels around the world, stated, “Sometimes the bill will be entered Saturday night from a strip club… and then the very next day, somebody will say, ‘We found this dollar bill in the collection plate at church,’ or vice versa."

TIME cited a 2002 report in the Southern Medical Journal that found 94 percent of paper money has pathogens, including staphylococcus which lives on the human skin and can cause staph infections.

If that’s not enough to turn your stomach, fecal matter has also been found on bills, which may have more germs than the toilet in your home.

While bacteria and viruses can survive on surfaces for close to 48 hours, a live flu virus can survive on paper money up to 17 days.

According to a study by researchers at New York University in 2014, there are hundreds of different types bacteria living on paper money, reported the Washington Post.

Jane Carlton, of the New York University Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, was part of the study.

“It was quite amazing to us,” Carlton said. “We actually found that microbes grow on money.”

Carlton and her team discovered bacteria on money that could cause infections, food poisoning, ulcers, pneumonia and genes behind antibiotic resistance.

Sources:, TIME, The Washington Post / Photo credit: Merzperson/Wikimedia

Will you ever touch paper money again?
Yes - 0%
Yes - 0%