In the course of its average 20 months in circulation, U.S. currency gets whisked into ATMs, clutched, touched and traded perhaps thousands of times at coffee shops, convenience stores and newsstands. And every touch to every bill brings specks of dirt, food, germs or even drug residue.
Research presented this weekend reinforced previous findings that 90 percent of paper money circulating in U.S. cities contains traces of cocaine.
Does that mean that all of that money was used in some form of transaction or use of cocaine? Not necessarily:
Money can be contaminated with cocaine during drug deals or if a user snorts with a bill. But not all bills are involved in drug use; they can get contaminated inside currency-counting machines at the bank.
“When the machine gets contaminated, it transfers the cocaine to the other bank notes,” Zuo said. These bills have fewer remnants of cocaine. Some of the dollars in his experiment had .006 micrograms, which is several thousands of times smaller than a single grain of sand.
Still, if that figure is anywhere near accurate it’s an astonishing discovery. How’s that “war on drugs” going, by the way?