Author: Press Association
The study was the biggest ever undertaken of cocaine contamination of bank
notes. Paper money can pick up cocaine particles directly from users
snorting the drug through rolled up bills, or from the handling of cash
during drug deals. Contamination can spread when bills are stacked together
or run through counting machines.
Scientists tested bank notes from more than 30 cities in the US, Canada,
Brazil, China and Japan. They found “alarming” evidence of cocaine
contamination in many areas. The US and Canada had the highest levels, with
an average contamination rate of between 85 per cent and 90 per cent. China
and Japan had the lowest rates of 20 per cent and 12 per cent.
Contamination of US currency was up 20 per cent on its level two years ago
when the same scientists conducted a similar study. Dr Yuegang Zuo, from the
University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, who led the research, said: “To
my surprise, we’re finding more and more cocaine in banknotes. 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.” Larger US
cities such as Baltimore, Boston and Detroit had the highest average cocaine
The “cleanest’ bills were collected from Salt Lake City, home of the
Mormons. Dr Zuo presented the findings at the American Chemical Society’s
annual meeting in Washington.
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