Speed Reads


Paper money is teeming with 3,000 types of bacteria


Money really is dirty, according to new research. NYU's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology identified 3,000 forms of bacteria on dollar bills, including some that can cause ulcers, pneumonia, food poisoning, and staph infections.

Even more disturbing is the fact that scientists could only identify 20 percent of the non-human DNA they found on the bills, which means that figure could be a lot higher. The DNA included 1.2 billion segments in all and even included traces of anthrax.

"It was quite amazing to us," Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing at NYU's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, told The Wall Street Journal. "We actually found that microbes grow on money." According to the Journal, a one-dollar bill lasts roughly 21 months in the U.S., providing plenty of time for germ collection.

Not using paper money is hardly a feasible option, but NPR recommends at least washing your hands after handling money.