Stories tagged contamination


Mo money, mo problems
Mo money, mo problemsCourtesy Acomment

Go ahead and take a quick look in your wallet or your purse. Do you have a dollar bill in there? Well 9 chances out of 10 you also are in possession of cocaine.

Think my claim is outrageous? Think again. In a current study conducted by the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, research has shown that cocaine is present in up to 90 percent of paper money in the United States. The reports were presented at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society this month and suggest that cocaine use is still extensive and could possibly be on the rise.

Scientists tested banknotes from over 30 cities in five countries including Brazil, China, Japan, Canada and the U.S. of which the Chinese and Japanese currencies held the lowest rates of contamination (between 12 to 20 percent) while the U.S. and Canada were reaching rates from 85 to 95 percent. For the U.S., this percentage of contaminated banknotes is a 20 percent jump of contamination in comparison to a study done two years prior.

Yuegang Zuo, the sudy leader says, “I'm not sure why we've seen this apparent increase, but it could be related to the economic downturn, with stressed people turning to cocaine.”

The current study also used a new method of measurement. Previous techniques destroyed the currency, but by using a modified form of gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer, a faster, simpler and more accurate measurement is obtained while maintaining the banknote. Using the GC-MS, 234 banknotes from the U.S. were analyzed and found that traces of cocaine range from .006 micrograms (several thousand times smaller than a grain of sand) to 1,240 micrograms (roughly 50 grains of sand).

But don’t get carried away, the amount of cocaine found on dollar bills is so small that there is zero chance of health or legal concerns. But if you feel the need to get rid of all of your paper money, feel free to send it my way:

Science Museum of Minnesota

(Attn: trans-2-butene)
120 W. Kellogg Blvd.

St. Paul, MN 55102


Oh my! Researchers in Virginia have found high levels of mercury in local songbirds. The birds live near a contaminated river, but do not eat any fish or other water creatures that might be contaminated. So, how did they get mercury inside of them?

Turns out the birds ate lots of spiders. And spiders are scavengers who’ll eat pretty much anything. Mercury from the environment accumulates in them, and gets passed along to the birds.

The next question is – how do the land-dwelling spiders get water-borne mercury inside of them?