Filthy lucre. When you were a little kid did your mother every tell you to keep money out of your mouth because it was dirty? Turns out that especially in parts of Europe it could also make you high.
The BBC is reporting that an analysis of euros from a handful of Spain's major cities suggests that as much as 94 percent of that nation's currency carries traces of cocaine, making it the most highly contaminated in Europe.
The BBC report was based on a story in El Mundo, which noted that Spain has one of the highest rates of cocaine use in the world, with about 475,000 regular users.
The analysis, done at the University of Valencia and published last week in Trends in Analytical Chemistry, used 20 euro notes from each of five cities -- Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, Valencia and Seville. Only a total of six notes were found to be drug free. And overall each bill had an average of 25.18 micrograms of the drug.
The euros have only been in circulation since January 2002.
Chemists at the University of Valencia say that they think the bills become contaminated either in the course of drug transactions, which are mostly done in cash, or in by users who roll bills into tubes to snort.
This phenomena is not, however, isolated to Spain.
A BBC survey in 1999 found that 99 percent of 5-pound notes tested in London contained traces of cocaine, and a 2003 German survey gave similar results to the Spanish analysis about cocaine traces. And the Spanish analysis found that US dollars contained the world's highest concentration of the drug, with an average of 2.9 to 28.8 micrograms depending on the year and city, with a maximum of more than 1,300 micrograms found on some 1996 bills.
Besides being tainted by drugs it turns out mom was right: Money really is filthy. A 2002 study showed 94 percent of $1 bills collected in western Ohio contained disease-causing or potentially disease-causing bacteria, according to a story on MSNBC.
Bottom line: The love of money may be the root of all evil, but the bills ain't exactly clean either.