Study: Most U.S. currency tainted with coke
The U.S. dollar is higher than ever.
Traces of cocaine taint up to 90 percent of paper money in the United States, a new study shows. Scientists tested currency from 30 cities in five countries, finding the greenback is number one in coke contamination.
The findings suggest cocaine abuse is still widespread and may still be on the rise, according to researchers.
"To my surprise, we're finding more and more cocaine in banknotes," said Yuegang Zuo. "I'm not sure why we've seen this apparent increase, but it could be related to the economic downturn, with stressed people turning to cocaine."
The amount of tainted U.S. bills is up 20 percent since the last study two years ago. Researchers did not test bills from New York but found Washington D.C. had the dirtiest bills — 95 percent — and Salt Lake City money was cleanest.
Cocaine adheres to the green dye on the dollar when someone uses it to snort the drug. Dollars can also be contaminated when they come into contact with someone’s coke-laced hands.
The drug then transfers onto clean bills in bank’s currency-counting machines or in people’s wallets or pockets. Zuo, who presented the University of Massachusetts study at the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., said his findings do not necessarily mean someone can get high off their dollar.
"For the most part, you can't get high by sniffing a regular banknote, unless it was used directly in drug uptake or during a drug exchange," Zuo said. "It also won't affect your health and is unlikely interfere with blood and urine tests used for drug detection."