How dirty is that money in your pocket?

New research has revealed that one in 10 bank cards (10 per cent) and one in 7 notes (14 per cent) were found to be contaminated with faecal organisms.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 17th October 2012, 5:53 am

The nationwide study investigated levels of bacterial contamination on the hands, credit cards and currency of various sample sizes to highlight the importance of handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet.

The research also revealed that over a quarter of hands sampled (26 per cent) showed traces of faecal contamination including bacteria such as E. coli. More significantly, out of the samples taken, 11 per cent of hands, eight per cent of cards and six per cent of notes showed gross contamination– where the levels of bacteria detected were equal to that you would expect to find in a dirty toilet bowl.

The participants who took part in the scientific study were also asked to fill out a questionnaire with the results revealing only 39 per cent of respondents washed their hands before eating. 91 per cent of respondents also stated that they washed their hands after using the toilet, although the surprising levels of faecal organisms contaminating the cards and currency suggest otherwise.

Washing hands with soap can reduce diarrhoeal infections by up to 42 per cent but only 69 per cent of people reported doing this whenever possible.

The study by Radox Handwash for Global Handwashing Day showed we don’t wash our hands as much as we should with over half (54 per cent) of those polled admitting they forget to wash their hands before eating and a further 40 per cent that they regularly buy lunch and then eat it without washing their hands. 44 per cent of people revealed they often just rinse their hands with water not soap to save time.

Nick Wilcher of Radox said: “Our research highlights just how much bacteria we are exposed to in our everyday lives, on objects such as money and cards. We hope this study makes people think twice and encourages people to wash their hands after going to the toilet and before eating.”

Dr Ron Cutler, who led the research, said, “Our analysis revealed that by handling cards and money each day we are coming into contact with some potential pathogens revealing faecal contamination including E. Coli and Staphylococci.

“People may tell us they wash their hands but the research shows us different, and highlights just how easily transferable these pathogens - surviving on our money and cards”.

And Dr. Val Curtis, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, leading the UK campaign for Global Handwashing Day, said, “Our research shows just how important handwashing is - the surprising levels of contamination that we found on everyday objects is a sign that people are forgetting to wash their hands after the toilet, one of the key moments for infection prevention.

“We hope people take the time to think about washing their hands with soap and make it a routine part of their daily lives.”