Contamination by pathogenic microorganisms is a major public health risk. People are working in dirty environments or engaging in work where there is body contact with pathogens which are a health hazard (Nasser & Alwakeel, 2012). In this context, manual handling of currency notes poses a special risk to public health, especially in places such as exchange houses, banks and casinos. Infectious diseases can easily spread through body contact with money.

Microbial contamination of money may be from different sources, such as accounting machines, work environment, storage, common usage, processing and printing (Alemu, 2014). Daily transactions that move currency from one point to another also pass pathogens. Alemu (2014) reports that the sources of contamination may be due to poor money processing and handling. There is a possibility that the notes might serve as a means of transmitting potentially pathogenic microorganisms in such environments. Money is exchanged while buying goods and services in the majority of the areas across the world. It is utilized in all types of trade, from ordering milk in a local store to trading in drugs and sexual services; each providing a fertile ground for pathogens to breed.


Green, Selman, and Radke (2006) point out that the parasites in notes that have been identified as contaminating substances are mainly from faecal matter. If the hands are not properly washed after visiting the toilet, the tendency is that the contamination develops parasitic eggs and even diseases. Green, Selman, and Radke (2006) pointed out that the cause of infection could be from mismanagement of currency, such as fumigation during a ceremony when the money can be stepped over if it falls down. People dealing with notes pass some of their body odour on to the currency note, inadvertently transmitting bacteria to the next person. Furthermore, microfluidic contamination is also drawn from dust, water, soil and the ones handling the objects, which are often used to count the notes.

Currency can cause the transfer of bacteria and parasites from one person to another, for example by using wet fingers, saliva or contaminated water and eventually going back to the bank. The appearance of the pathogenic microorganisms creates a potential risk to consumer health. It is recommended that people should follow hygiene practices before handling food and water after contacting notes and counting machines. Abid (2012) argues that microorganisms are everywhere, so they have the ability to live on items like notes and counting machines. In general, even the contact of currency notes with the atmosphere can lead to environmental contamination. Money that carry pathogenic microorganisms is often a forgotten reservoir of intestinal diseases. In most developed countries, it is held that the concurrent handling of food and currency leads to higher chances of health damage (Abid, 2012).

According to Nasser and Alwakeel (2012), many people have no wallets to keep their money in and squeezed notes are distributed, particularly among women merchants, motorcyclists, drivers, meat producers, restaurant waiters and owners, and others. Men and women squeeze their money in socks, while women put it under the rug or carpet. Men and women in markets stuff notes in dirty pockets. Such currency handling can transfer microorganisms to the notes. In addition, the storage of money in polyethylene, cotton, and pelt bags in a damp and dim environment also contributes to the development of microorganisms.

According to Abid (2012), the presence of a heavy load of microorganisms may represent a potential risk to the health of the consumers. People are expected to rely on a hygienic application before taking food and drinks after interacting with money and counting apparatuses. Microorganisms are present everywhere, so they can contaminate money counting machines.

Neel (2012) point out that currency is probably the most handled object in the world every day by people. Money moves between clean hands and very dirty hands, and vice versa. The lower notes are the most handled, since they are exchanged several times. In addition, cross-contamination of the faecal waste, injuries, nasal discharge, sneezing and cough are possible sources of transferring the microorganism to the notes.


Neel (2012) indicates that there are various ways of controlling the hazardous effects of microorganisms from money. Compressed air must not be used to clean counting machines and workplaces, since it can generate air pollutants. For cleaning it is necessary to use a vacuum cleaner with a high-quality particle filter. One can also use a damp cloth to clean the structures. One should not dry sweep the place. A qualified ventilation company must carry out the complete control of the heating, aeration and air conditioning, in support of the counting rooms, workplaces and rest areas. Necessary changes must be made to ensure adequate ventilation. The goal of the project should be to offer sufficient space with air conditioning and better ventilation for each area.

Green, Selman, and Radke (2006) suggest that people should improve cleanliness in places where money counting takes place. It is necessary to increase the cleaning frequency and all the ventilation openings, instruments, tables and other parts should be cleaned regularly with a damp cloth. Workers must wash their hands thoroughly before smoking, eating, drinking and after finishing the shifts as part of their personal hygiene. The workers should use gloves and masks on their faces to protect themselves from the microorganisms found on the currencies.

It is not just the germs that are carried in notes, people that count money within safes or secured closed environments are also exposed to fine particulate matter from the printing ink. Ordinary dust masks and hand gloves cannot offer adequate protection against airborne pathogens and fine ink that are very small in size.

There are three levels of filter efficiencies of masks – 95% (N95), 99% (N99), and 99.97% (N100 or HEPA filter) tested against aerosol (fine mist) droplets 0.3 microns in diameter. N95 type respirators are the respirators recommended for use by health care workers in contact with patients with infections (CCOHS, 2018). There are several resources freely available to better understand respiratory protection (OSHA, 2012; OSHA, 2009)

Yue et al. (2013) argue that Cordyceps is a well-known traditional medicinal mushrooms in China. Cordyceps attacks the larvae of some insect species and develops into sclerotium, from which it grows further. For this reason, Cordyceps can be useful to the people who use money-counting machines because Cordyceps can help killing microorganisms that are capable of causing various diseases to the money handlers, such as cancer.


Various sources have shown that currencies, money-counting machines and currency counting rooms of banks are contaminated with different types of microorganisms. The presence of various microorganisms in money counting rooms and counting machines may pose a potential risk to consumer health. The risk is not limited to bacteria; printing ink is also a source of respiratory problems for those engaged in money counting. For this reason, it is advisable to process money in a safe way so that it is not contaminated by dirt and pathogens.

Organizations that count a lot of money – exchange houses, banks, casinos for example, must manage currency with extreme care by ensuring removal of dirty money from circulation (Vriesekoop, et al., 2010). It is advisable to regularly disinfect money received in banks with ultraviolet light and formalin vapour. Counting coins and notes has been linked to incidences of cancer and Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) (Kiefer & Delaney, 2001; Kupeli, Karnak, Sak, & Kayacan, 2010). This validates the importance of having respiratory masks certified to a minimum of N95.

Based on the results of various studies, it is fair to say that money handling causes transmission of various microorganisms that cause diseases to people and some of these diseases can cause death. Thus, money counting today can be the reason for people to die tomorrow.


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2.Alemu, A. (2014). Microbial contamination of currency notes and coins in circulation: a potential public health hazard. Biomedicine and Biotechnology , 2 (3), 46-53.

3.CCOHS. (2018, July 20). Respiratory Protection Against Airborne Infectious Agents for Health Care Workers. Retrieved July 21, 2018 from Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety:

4.Green, L., Selman, C., & Radke, V. (2006). Food Worker Hand Washing Practices: An Observational Study. Journal of Food Protection , 69 (10), 2417-2426.

5.Kiefer, M., & Delaney, L. (2001, Jan 09). Evaluation of exposure to contaminants during coin and paper counting activities. Retrieved July 21, 2018 from

6.Kupeli, E., Karnak, D., Sak, S. D., & Kayacan, O. (2010). Hazards of the ‘hard cash’: Hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Can Respir Journal , 17 (5), 102-105.

7.Nasser, L. A., & Alwakeel, S. (2012). Bacterial and fungal contamination of Saudi Arabian paper currency and cell phones. Environmental Engineering and Management Journal , 11 (3), 72.

8.Neel, R. (2012). Multidrug Resistance of Isolates of Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) in Paper Currency Notes From Meat Sellers in Tanga, Tanzania. Int J LifeSc Bt & Pharm Res. , 1 (4), 9-13.

9.OSHA. (2012). Respiratory Protection. Retrieved July 21, 2018 from Occupational Safety and Health Administration:

10.OSHA. (2009, Dec 16). The Difference Between Respirators and Surgical Masks. Retrieved July 21, 2018 from Occupational Safety and Health Administration: The Difference Between Respirators and Surgical Masks

11.Vriesekoop, F., Russell, C., Alvarez-Mayorga, B., Aidoo, K., Yuan, Q., Scannell, A., et al. (2010). Dirty money: an investigation into the hygiene status of some of the world’s currencies as obtained from food outlets. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease , 7 (12), 1497-502.

12.Yue, K., Ye, M., Zhou, Z., Sun, W., & Lin, X. (2013). The genus Cordyceps: a chemical and pharmacological review. J Pharm Pharmacol , 65 (4), 474-93.

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