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90% of U.S. currency tainted with cocaine. Which cities are worst?

President George Washington grabs his white-powdered wig in shock over the high percentage of U.S. currency tainted with cocaine in a new study Just to be safe, you should probably stop sniffing your dollar bills. Especially if you live/work in the nation's capital of politics.

A new -- and strange -- study by the American Chemical Society has just revealed that nine out of 10  pieces -- as in 90% -- of the paper currency sampled around the United States recently contained traces of cocaine -- as in the illegal substance, which binds to the green ink.

Not surprisingly, the money was especially contaminated in bigger, more evil places like Detroit, Boston and Baltimore. Also in Miami, Orlando and good old L.A. All right around 100%. Mostly in $5s, $10s, $20s and $50s.

But get this: The contamination was nearly as bad -- as in 95% -- in Washington, D.C.

Now, we know why their workweeks are so short back there.

According to an ACS news release, the scientists studied banknotes from nearly three dozen cities in five countries -- the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Japan and China. The two North American countries showed the worst contamination, averaging between 85% and 90%. Brazil's was 80%. Toronto's was 88%.

China (20%) and Japan (12%) had the cleanest bills.

The head of the study, Yuegang Zuo, of the University of Massachusetts, expressed surprise at the high rate of cocaine tainting. He conducted a similar study two years ago and found a U.S. rate of "only" 67% then. Even bills not involved in drug deals can become contaminated during the automated bill-counting process in banks.

Zuo speculated that the apparent increased presence of cocaine was tied to difficult economic times, with more people experiencing stress and turning to the illegal drug. He noted that the cocaine detected on the bills was usually a minute amount, presenting no direct health threat, unless it was used in active snorting -- as in rolled up -- or involved in direct proximity to drug deals.

So, with the exception of those bills employed in the snorting process, you probably don't need to worry about being contaminated.

Still, if you ever encounter any drug-sniffing dogs, it's probably best not to offer the canines a monetary tip.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Comments () | Archives (36)

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they have been saying this since the 1980s - this is not new information for the most part.

Without any info on the "study" and how it was conducted, we can only assume that the ACS simply tested all the currency in their building.

What about all the people that have been convicted due to "Cocaine" evidence on money; people who had money confiscated due to drug residue?

Everyone's doing it. We've all used bills before. So what.

Yet, they still tell us the war on drugs is working and that less that 20% of Americans have ever used drugs. Interesting...

please,...try anything, but stop using cocaine or any other ilegal drug, just think about it, theres so much death, blood, crime, sufering, tears, pain, crime, kiling, misery...etc. seek help, but you must stop.

Let me take a shot on this guy, Zuo probably has tons of masters degrees from wherever and his accomplishment is this study.

1) when there is economic downturn, stressed people dont turn to cocaine. If they are already using cocaine, its because of addiction. If they are not users, stressed people dont turn to cocaine, they use their money for food and shelther.

2) 20 percent of Chinese money compared to 90 percent of US dollars. Well duh, how many chinese notes do you need for every dollar. Its like having a stack of papers against one piece of note.

And this person is a scientist? OMG.

The fact that drug sniffing dogs are used at all when virtually all of our money is tainted (guaranteeing a high rate of false positives) is a disgrace in the first place.

This is kind of amazing. I think I have my conversation starter for the day.

i am really surprised with the "nation's capital of politics" result of this study ; it reminds me that this city has the highest rate of usa for aids . Mr President should work on the health care plan for this town and then for the country .
wish that will do it from france-spain ;']

The reason the dollar bill is the least popular is because it is often to hard to find a clean one.

The reason so many American's get high is everyone is so depressed with the shallow empty uncaring lives we live. Has anyone really taken a look around,the vast majority of us are working for the man, and the company store. If you want to know what a "consumer" is look in the mirror.

Maybe one day we will rebel and quit working in the mines. Then again you could do a few lines and head back to the pit in the morining.

This is just one more reason to always wash your hands after handling money and before you start eating!

Shocking! The Administration's push toward a Cashless Society couldn't have come at a better time. Use your Credit Card today!

I'm less worried about money in Washington DC being tainted with cocaine than I am that it's tainted with ugly politics, backroom deals, vote buying, and lobbyist influence. Cocaine is minor compared to that.

The War on Drugs is officially lost. We'd have a much better handle on controlling them if the more recreational ones, namely pot and coke, were legalized, regulated and TAXED. For one thing it would be easier to keep them out of the hands of children. Also, if they were legal it would take the black market, criminal aspect away if corporate farms produced them and then legally imported them and/or grew them here. With the criminality gone there would be much more money available for treatment end education, and our courts and prisons would have much more room for dealing with real criminals. It's time to stop legislating and enforcing "morality" and instead deal with our vices with a more mature and realistic policy. See my blog, for additional thoughts on this.

BTW, I've been clean & sober over 12 years and intend to stay that way. This is about sane public policy and not squandering our vital tax dollars.

woah, doesn't that mean you could possibly get arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession, just by some drug sniffing dogs zeroing-in on one's cocaine-tainted money?

Washington D.C. is the nation's capital of politics. Which is convenient because it's also the nation's capital.

I guess this gives new meaning to the term "laundering money"!

95% in D.C.

now why am I not surprised...

90% of our politicians and government workers are probably tainted with cocaine as well.

Who uses cash anymore??

Just a hypothesis, but with most people now swiping plastic for everyday purchases, should this be particularly surprising? I can think of several reasons why this relatively recent transition to electronic payment systems migh explain an increase.

First, consider that those in poverty migh be less likely to be using credit and debit cards for purchases. With higher rate of drug use among this demographic, and that demographic relying more upon cash for purchases than plastic, one could certainly expect an increase in the rate of drug-traced bills recycled back into circulation.

Or spend a second thinking about a the places that still primarily operate on cash. These are the places that recycle huge volumes of currency back into the system over and over again. How about Casinos? Strip clubs? Bars? Drug deals? Prostitution? Any grey/black market transactions. One one side, you have certain cash-based businesses that are often associated with illicit behavior ...and they're steadily recycling bills into the system. On the other side, you have those businesses that are not likely to be in contact with drugs now primarily using electronic payment. Even if drug use went down among the population, you'd still expect to see an increase in the number of bills with traces of coke on them, simply because certain illicit cash-based busineses now handle a greater percentage of he currency exchange than they did 10 years ago.

Whoever joked that everyone should start using credit cards is missing the point. Before they snort it with rolled bills, what do you think they cut it with?

Every dollar spent on drugs buys another round of ammunition for the Narco Terrorists, the Taliban, or other group. If we have no border security and ineffective inspection of commerce we have a bigger problem than dopeheads.....if the drugs got here, so did the explosives, poisens, and nuclear material. Its waiting for its master to set it off and kill Americans.
When will this government wake up..its had its head in its ass for too many years. Of course obama is useless, as is Homeland Insecurity, run by an x governor with no law enforcement background, She can make a speech, but thats it. Another talking head.

Its time to get real men on the job, and send the girls and shoe shine boys home.

thats why people should use 100 dollar bills

This is crazy!
i really thought i could never be near this drug. wow.

40 people a day are dying in Mexico due to drug cartel related violence. Mexican FDI is falling due to the violence, and tourism is suffering... And what do Americans do? Continue sniffing cocaine.. Give us a brake!!

it sounds from what the head of the study says that there is nothing important about this at all:
"The head of the study, Yuegang Zuo, of the University of Massachusetts, expressed surprise at the high rate of cocaine tainting. He conducted a similar study two years ago and found a U.S. rate of "only" 67% then. Even bills not involved in drug deals can become contaminated during the automated bill-counting process in banks."
In other words, there is no evidence that this result is anything other than an artifact of the way money is continually recycled through machinery. It's a meaningless study from a sociological point of view.

no wonder people go crazy before money.

Yeah, it sure does mean that if you are pulled over and if any suspicious patrolman wants to search your vehicle for whatever lame excuse he can provide, and he has a drug dog jumping around in a car, which they always do anytime they even see anyone else than their handler, if the officer takes the dog to the car and the dog alerts to any tainted money in the car or in your pocket, your money can be confisicated and seized. Then you will have to provide evidence that states where the money came from and verify it, then you will have to petition for them to release it, which they are very reluctant to do because its their way off robbing the public without a gun. Then if the
local authorities agree to give the money back the us district court or federal courts can file an appeal to review the case again, and usually they end up winning in the end. So there it is. This money brings revenues to the local,
state, federal, agencies and they use it to buy planes, cars, high tech equipment
and pay salaries, don't you once believe they want to give it back or change the law. So yes 90 percent of all circulated money is tainted and yes, part of that 90 percent is in your pocket from the banks, stores, casinos, wherever, so beware, and fight back.

maybe i should start laundering my money -- literally, in the Maytag.

it is a petty that most are not seeing the whole picture. nobody cares about stopping drugs in the world, it is one of the most successful and powerful industries, if a war is waged on drugs, it will surely eleminate this poisen from reaching us. but the U.S is used as the war arm for few hundred poeple who control the world, they are interested in this business as much as they are interested in the energy business, thats why they only wage wars when there is profit.

they control the country, the politics, the media, the entertainment, they issue the money, they make wars, they stereotype who are our enemies, they wrote the bible, and they will make poeple more materialastic. we are slaves of those huge companies who are CEOed and owned by those few hundreds.

"care not who will rule england, as long as you issue the money"

Well that explains, americans view of the world, very disfunctional, and also explains why americans believed their pres about WMD in Iraq, and that Bin laden's cronies destroyed 3 buildings and a part of the pentagram (gon - whatever) with only 3 planes. But wait they are on the side of good, no really they are, ask any american, if you do not agree you better run I heard addicts do get very agressive if you dissagree with them, just look at the poor iraqi's, but then it also make them less effective like in Afgan, the dudes with sandals kicking some addict butt. Ok OK, just playing, hope nobody took this too seriously, let me get my next fix .....

People, people... relax! This doesn't readily translate into something like "90% of the population are addicts." They are probably talking about very very tiny amount, only detectable using the most rigorous methods and sophistaced tools available to chemical science. The percentage of addicts among the population is probably still the same--anywhere between 10-20%, I'd say .

Not surprised by this study. All drug deals are made with cash and for some people it is one of the few things they still regularly purchase with cash. Rolling up and snorting with a dirty bill is kinda nasty, though.

cocaine gets on money because people roll up dollar bills and use them as an instrument to snort the cocaine. then, when they unroll in and place it back in their wallets, it spreads and contaminates other bills.

C.ocaine I.mporting A.gency is responsible for most of the yayo coming into the country.
The real disgrace is the lust to throw mainly african americans into cages for decades at a time for peddling the garbage the government brings in.

The War on Drugs is absurd.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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