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cocaine + girls = contaminated cash in u.s.

August 17, 2009


Nearly all of U.S. bank notes in circulation across the country contain traces of cocaine, according to a new study. A group of scientists tested banknotes from more than 30 cities in five countries, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, China, and Japan. An average of 85% of U.S. greenbacks had traces of the drug, up 20% from two years ago when a similar study was conducted. Canadian cash was found to have similar levels of cocaine. Chinese and Japanese currency had the lowest, levels of contamination, between 12 and 20 percent.

The amount of cocaine found on most notes, however, was so small that consumers should not have any health or legal concerns about handling paper money.

The findings were presented Sunday at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C. The study was led by Dr. Yuegang Zuo, at the University of Massachusettes. Scientists have known for years that paper money can become contaminated with cocaine during drug deals and directly through drug use, such as snorting cocaine through rolled bills. Contamination can also spread to banknotes not involved in the illicit drug culture, because bills are processed in banks’ currency-counting machines.

The scientists found that larger cities like Baltimore, Boston, and Detroit had among the highest average cocaine levels. Washington, D.C., ranked above the average, with 95 percent of the banknotes sampled contaminated with the drug. The lowest average cocaine levels in U.S. currency appeared on bills collected from Salt Lake City.

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