Filthy, Dirty Money

August 15th, 2011
in econ_news

paper-money Econintersect:  Exposure to BPA (bisphenol A) has been linked to a variety of health problems. Although a recent study found traces of BPA in U.S. currency, nobody knew until now about BPA in paper money worldwide.  Manufacturers use BPA to make polycarbonate plastics used in consumer products, such as water bottles, sports equipment, and household electronics.  There is concern about BPA because it can act like estrogen and has been associated with several health problems, including cancer.

Follow up:

A recent study found traces of BPA in U.S. currency.  Now, a new study in the ACS (American Chemical Society) journal Environmental Science and Technology has found that BPA in paper money is a global problem.  From

The scientists' analysis of 156 pieces of paper money from 21 countries found that all contained traces of BPA. The report notes, however, that "estimated daily intake from paper currencies were 10-fold lower than those reported from exposures due to [indoor] dust ingestion in the United States." The highest BPA levels were in paper money from Brazil, the Czech Republic and Australia, while the lowest occurred in from the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Levels in U.S. notes were about average.

The authors of the ACS journal paper are Chunyang Liao and Kurunthachalam Kannan, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, and Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, State University of New York at Albany.

The most likely source of the BPA in the currency is the thermal paper used in cash register receipts, according to

So far, no one has suggested that BPA from money is a significant health problem.  From the ACS journal paper:

Although high levels of were measured in paper currencies, human exposure through dermal [skin] absorption appears to be minor.

Your Econintersect editor wonders if that is true for people who store their money in their mattress or sleep with their wallet under their pillow.


Sources: and Environmental Science and Technology (American Chemical Society)

Hat tip to Sanjeev Kulkarni.

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