Currency notes move from hand to hand collecting dirt and bacteria that make people very uncomfortable to touch them.
But, according to research by a student of Khulna University, such notes are even more harmful than we think of.
“Taka notes and coins contain bacteria like E. Coli and faecal coliform which are very harmful to health,” reveals the research conducted by Nishat Tasnim, a final-year student of the Environmental Science Discipline of the university.
Under the research titled “Study of the Bacterial Contamination on Paper Money and Coins of Khulna City Area,” after collecting currency notes and coins from 15 sources in the city over a period of six months, the samples were tested in laboratories.
“In the research, maximum bacteria and faecal bacteria was found on notes used by the sellers of meat, fish and chicken. Harmful bacteria was also found from the currency notes and coins of 12 other sources,” said Prof Abdullah Harun Chowdhury, research supervisor of Environment Science Discipline of the university.
He said, “Day-to-day life is impossible without taka but currency notes are posing a severe health hazard to us. People are getting affected while eating anything after touching taka without washing their hands.”
“We've a plan to conduct another wider research very soon,” Dr Chowdhury added.
Referring to the research, Prof SM Kamal, Department Head of Medicine Department of Khulna Medical College Hospital, said: “The currency notes contain various types of bacteria. Sometimes it is seen that the currency notes are lying on the ground, in trash or in drains. The people concerned use the currency notes after drying those.”
“As per the research report of the Khulna University, some of the bacteria found in notes and coins, may be contained in stool. The bacteria contained in currency notes may cause various diseases if they enter the stomach. They may cause urine infection as well,” he pointed out.
The research revealed that E. coli count in the notes collected from the meat shops was upto 2670, while it was 2,600 in notes collected from fish sellers, and 2,300 in chicken sellers. On the other hand, the E. coli count was 2,800 in notes collected from shops selling both meat and fish.
Faecal coliform bacteria count of 2,600 was found in the currency notes of meat shops. These two bacteria were also found in taka notes collected from other sources, but those were below 1,000.
“Besides, 2,600 E. coli bacteria was found in the coins collected from the fish sellers, 2,480 at chicken sellers, 2,600 in juice sellers’ coins, 2,130 in meat shop coins, 1,790 in the coin of street food shop and 1250 E. coli bacteria was found in the coins collected from a fuchka shop,” the research report added.
A count of 2,900 fecal coliform bacteria was found in the coins of chicken shop, 2,800 in the coins of fish seller, 2,660 in the coins of meat seller, 2,060 in the coins of fruit seller, 1,570 in the coins of street food shops, 1,460 in the coins of ‘fuchka’ shop, 1,200 in the coins of common people and 1,080 fecal coliform bacteria was found in the coins of beggars, the report further mentioned.
However, these two bacteria were also found in the coins collected from other sources. But those were below 1,000, which is generally thought to be a safe level, according to Dr Partha Protim Debnath, Assistant Registrar of Medicine Department of Khulna Medical College Hospital.