Drug Money

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | August 18, 2009 10:16 am

picture-5.pngI’ve been reading a good deal about the effects of cocaine on the human body as I enter the homestretch of composing my next book, which also involves the stimulation of similar pleasure centers of the brain. That said, you can imagine my interest in the topic of Yuegang Zuo’s talk at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society: His research estimates that 90 percent of U.S. bills carry traces of cocaine.

Now don’t be alarmed. Cocaine binds to the green dye in money and a good deal of cross-contamination happens when bills get whisked through ATM machines. So we’re talking about very small trace amounts–not enough to put your health at risk. Still, the findings of this study out of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth cast an intriguing light on how easily we come into contact with drugs, germs, and more as we course about our daily lives.

Percentages of contaminated bills vary by location and Zuo plans investigate whether his data can illustrate cocaine use regionally. Read more at CNN

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Media and Science

Comments (5)

  1. MartyM

    What percentage of our money contains small amounts of semen and/or fecal matter? I bet it is higher than cocaine.

  2. Barry

    No risk to your health? What happens when you run into a drug sniffing German shepherd, and you have a few bills in your wallet which is in your pocket directly over your buns? Not to mention the heavily armed trigger happy guy who’s with the dog.

  3. Sorbet

    I bet that every one of us has a few atoms of cocaine inside our bodies. Given the small size of atoms it’s an unescapable conclusion.

    So do you know what receptor subtype cocaine binds to and how it exercises its action? It’s still a puzzle.

  4. I bet that every one of us has a few atoms of cocaine inside our bodies. Given the small size of atoms it’s an unescapable conclusion.

    So do you know what receptor subtype cocaine binds to and how it exercises its action? It’s still a puzzle.
    OH! You’re my new favorite blogger fyi

  5. Sorbet

    Umm…that last person was not me. It’s an impostor.

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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.

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