Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/161

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157
SOILED PAPER MONEY
A BACTERIOLOGICAL STUDY OF SOILED PAPER MONEY
By WARREN W. HILDITCH
THE SHEFFIELD LABORATORY OF BACTERIOLOGY AND HYGIENE, YALE UNIVERSITY

IT is generally acknowledged to-day that little progress can be made in sanitation or hygiene without the general cooperation of the public. To obtain this cooperation, it is essential that the people be correctly informed upon all sanitary or hygienic subjects; for should it be found that the demands for this or that improvement are not based upon true scientific facts, how can success be hoped for, when a really essential reform is brought forth?

All will agree that soiled paper money is at least not a thing of beauty, and the unpleasant odors and filth accompanying some bills offend every esthetic sense, and give good foundation for the demand for a more frequent issue or redemption of our currency by the government. Everybody who has traveled abroad will admit that our paper currency is a disgrace when compared to the clean, crisp money to be found in many of the foreign countries, where soiled or worn bills are almost unknown.

In our arguments for clean money, should we include the one which claims that soiled paper money is a frequent medium for the transmission of infectious diseases? The popular opinion to-day is that paper money is very filthy and extremely dangerous to handle, as on it may be found any and all kinds of disease germs known to science. Many people, especially women, have a dread and horror of dirty money and often insist on clean bills when getting change; yet cashiers and bank tellers very seldom think of the filth on the money, and they have no aversion for it. Physicians often seem eager to blame our currency for the spread of disease or the cause of death, especially when it is difficult to find out the true source of infection.

The frequent occurrence of diphtheria and tuberculosis led me to be especially interested in attempts to find Bacillus diphtheriæ and the tubercle bacillus on money, and thus prove it to be one medium for the transmission of these diseases. The soiled money used for this study was the dirtiest I could obtain from various sources, such as railroad, trolley and theatre ticket offices, banks, drug stores and individuals in different parts of the state. Some of the bills were much more worn than others, being very soft, cracked and soiled, with frayed edges.

Each bill was thoroughly brushed in twenty-five cubic centimeters of sterile physiological salt solution, the work being carried on under