Wash your hands off messy notes

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Bellevision Media Network

Bangalore, 06 August 2010: Next time you buy vegetables from a street vendor or purchase meat from a butcher shop, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly. The reason: A study has found that the currency notes given by street vendors and butchers have a high concentration of bacteria!


The study conducted on the microbial contamination of Indian currency notes circulated in Bangalore was conducted by the Department of Microbiology, Genohelix Biolabs, Jain University. It showed that the  pathogenic count was the highest in rupee notes given by butchers, street-food vendors and vegetable sellers and bus conductors. The notes given by banks reported the lowest growth of bacterial colonies.



According to the study conducted over a period of three months notes were collected in sterile zip-lock covers. The samples were taken from butchers, beggars, vegetable sellers, bus conductors, banks from areas like City market, M G Road, Majestic bus stand and near colleges in JP Nagar 1st Phase. Currency notes of denominations - Rs 5, Rs 10, Rs 100 and Rs 500 - were chosen for the study.


It was found that contamination of pathogens, both bacterial and fungal, were less in higher units of denominations and higher in lower units of denominations. Some of the bacterial pathogens that were identified were Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumonia, Proteus mirabilis and Streptococcus faecalis. Fungal forms included Asperglluls sp., Trichoderma sp and Penicillium sp. 


"The lower denomination notes get soiled easily. The notes are treated to sweat and saliva of people. In a butcher’s shop, the notes are stored in places that have extensive scope for bacteria to breed," said Sourav Bhattacharya, one of the three members, who conducted the study. Arijit Das and Nagananda G S are the the other two members on the panel.


Colonies of bacteria


With each note undergoing tests three times, notes from a butcher’s shop on an average showed over 50 colonies of bacteria breeding on it. A note from the bank showed around 3-4 colonies. Sourav said that currency papers are bigger in surface and therefore conducive for bacteria and fungi to be persistent on it even more than coins.


The contamination was the result of lack of hygienic practice among meat, food and vegetable vendors, faecal contamination, coughing and sneezing on the notes, etc. So, what’s the solution? Sourav felt that people should wash their hands after exchange of money, especially people who are constantly engaged in monetary transactions.


"It would be wise to use hand sanitisers or washing of hand before touching food as the bacteria could cause various infections and illnesses,” felt Sourav. He added that Reserve Bank of India should repeatedly conduct decontamination of notes through UV treatment. Usage of plastic currency is another solution.



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