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Elevator buttons, bathroom toilets and doorknobs are the surfaces that contain the most germs, right?

Not necessarily.

According to ABC News, researchers discovered that dollar bills from a Manhattan bank carried 3,000 types of bacteria. As was to be expected, most of them were the types commonly found on people’s skin. Others were similar to the types found in mouths…and even in vaginas.

In addition, the bacteria found could be linked to a wide range of harmful germs, such as the types that cause acne, pneumonia, and even some antibiotic resistant types, including the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to the researchers at the New York University’s Center for Genomics and Systems Biology.


Experts say that the reason paper currency can carry germs so effectively is that people don’t often wash their hands before or after handling it. The materials, which are conducive to viruses and bacteria, pick them up, and then breed in the ideally-warm temperatures inside pockets and purses.

Here’s an example of how easily and quickly these germs can spread, and how much of a role bills can play in spreading illnesses: researchers found that bills analyzed in winter were more likely than those tested in summer to carry bacteria that can cause pneumonia.

“Microbes are so important, are very ubiquitous and they surround us all the time,” lead investigator Jane Carlton, director of genome sequencing at the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology said.

So, What Are Other Germ-Infested Surfaces You Touch Every Day?

Per a recent study conducted by Kimberly-Clark Professional, a unit of the personal hygiene giant Kimberly-Clark Corp., there are quite a few surfaces that can carry dangerous germs.

The study researchers were aiming to obtain the levels of adenosine triphosphate, found in animal, mold, yeast, bacteria and vegetable cells. ATP levels give an idea of how many microorganisms are present on a surface. If a surface has an ATP level of 300 or above, that surface is considered a possible risk for illness. ATP levels of 100 or above mean that the surface could definitely be cleaner.

Some of the most germ-contaminated surfaces (over 300) included:

  • Gas Pump Handles
  • Office desks
  • Mailbox Handles
  • Escalator Rails
  • ATM Buttons
  • Parking Meters/Kiosks
  • Crosswalk Buttons
  • Vending Machine Buttons

The solution? You already know what it is – wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer. If you wash your hands prior to touching your face or prior to eating or drinking, which should be the norm, you dramatically cut your infection risk.