The other day at work I felt my lip swelling after eating something I knew was safe. Feeling frustrated, I scanned my mind listing out all the things I had eaten and handled during the day, focusing on what may have been risky. Then it clicked! I’d handled money in my purse only a few minutes before feeling like I was having a mild reaction. I must’ve touched my lip! I vaguely remember putting on chapstick and some of my hair got stuck to my lip after bending over to put my purse back down, and I used my hand to wipe it off. Ah-hah, I thought, and also …how gross!!!
In hindsight, I should’ve taken the precaution to wipe my hands before touching my mouth after handling something as public as money, but I didn’t think about it. Normally at work I do use hand sanitizer and a tissue (since they give us free boxes of tissues) every so often at my desk to wipe my hands free of any possible contaminants, and wipe my keyboard and computer mouse, but I try to wash my hands with soap regularly as well because they say the thing that really moves the particles off your hands are the soap suds. I do all this as a precaution to try to keep from becoming itchy or having a serious allergic reaction, which could lead to anaphylaxis, from accidental exposure, just like what happened with my money.
This mild reaction got me thinking about how contaminated money is. We all know money is full of germs, but it is also likely to be contaminated by peanut dust, and other allergens, from cross-contact because it’s so highly switched from hand to hand and placed in various areas that may contain food particles. I actually pick up money for the Kentucky Humane Society “Belly Banks” and I got involved doing this because I wanted to volunteer with KHS, but knew I couldn’t be around the animals and their facilities since they use peanut butter heavily. Picking up money from places around town and bringing it to KHS has been rewarding, and a more safe way for me to contribute, but it came with it’s own surprising element that it could still put me into a reaction. I have to be really careful to not touch my face, and also make sure I wipe my car steering wheel, my purse, my phone, anything I’ve touched after handling all the cash and coins.
I am now extra cautious of handling change in my coin purse and handling dollar bills. I’m not sure if I’ll go as far as to start washing my own coins and wiping dollar bills with a damp cloth or wipe, but honestly it isn’t a terrible idea. It’s not because of the germs, but because of the potential food contamination! I wipe most everything else already, so why is such a widely recognized germy, contaminated thing like money getting an exception in my book?