Research released this past weekend reveals that 90 percent of the paper money circulating in the U.S. contains traces of cocaine. The study was conducted by Yuegang Zuo, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

  (Zuo with his dirty money)

According to Zuo, some of the money gets contaminated during drug deals or when a user snorts coke with the bill, but most of it happens in currency-counting machines in banks. “When the machine gets contaminated, it transfers the cocaine to other bank notes,” Zuo said.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point-of-view, most bills contain amounts too small to pose any health risk or to get you high so it’s probably useless to try to sniff that twenty in your pocket when your dealer isn’t answering your pages.

You only have to worry if you are involved in a profession such as bank teller and come in constant contact with the currency-counting machines. Because there is cocaine dust present, you could breathe it in and test positive for the drug. Again, this could be a good or bad thing. If you already are a coke head, you can claim to be drug free and blame the results on the machine.

But what’s amazing about this study is that it demonstrates just how pervasive drugs really are in this country. If you think 90 percent is a high number, consider this: in the cities of Detroit, Boston, Orlando, Miami and Los Angeles—100 percent of the bills tested turned up positive for cocaine. That means if you live in one of these cities like I do, all the money in your wallet or purse right now is laced with Bolivian powder! God bless America!

But again, you shouldn’t worry about this. There are worse things clinging to your money. A 2002 study published in the Southern Medical Journal found that 94 percent of bills tested contained potentially disease causing organisms like staphylococcus aureus so it’s probably a good idea to just get into a general habit of washing your hands after handling money. You never know where it’s been.

Read the full story here.


  1. so what you’re telling me is that i’ve been carrying a party in my wallet all these years and i didn’t know it? rad

  2. I am so impressed that the University of Massachusetts would support the same experiment that my step daughter did in 4th grade science class.

  3. awesome.