Cash. We need it to live. But have you ever stopped to think of what it is you’re touching when you hold a $20 bill, or a handful of nickels and dimes? Unless they’re crisp bills straight from the mint, or freshly unwrapped quarters, the chances are, they’ve changed hands many, many times. Let’s break it down, and discover the filthy truth of what might be lurking on the money in your wallet.

The Lifespan of Bank Notes and Coins

Coins are built to last. Right now you can find coins for sale that date back to the age of Julius Caesar. The average lifespan of a coin is around 30 years, but some can still be in circulation after 50 years or more. They change hands thousands of times, and never get cleaned.

Conversely, “paper” money is nowhere near as hardy, but as it’s made up of 25% linen and 75% cotton, it’s not really paper at all. It’s cloth. This makes it resistant to folds (the average bill can be folded back and forth over 4,000 times before tearing), with a humble dollar bill lasting almost five years. However, because the material is also absorbent, it has the chance to pick up a multitude of germs and bacteria.

What’s on Your Money?

The Dirty Money Project, in New York, has been studying our money for years. Their findings are not for the faint of heart. Each dollar bill carries roughly 3,000 types of bacteria on its surface. Common microbes found include the ones that cause acne and other skin problems. Anthrax was also detected, but fear not, it was not the weaponized variety.

The Southern Medical Journal also did one of many studies conducted on the state…