[Click to see a full-sized version of the map.]
Bringing a gruesome new meaning to ‘dirty money’, a new study has revealed that many of London’s cash machines are festering dirt-traps.
The personal finance blog Quid Corner swabbed some of the most heavily-used cash points around the capital, checking keypads, touchscreens and card readers for bacteria. For comparison, researchers also tested various other objects around London, like stair bannisters in tube stations, poles on underground trains and train arm-rests. The result is this map, which shows the cleanest and dirtiest places to get cash out around the city.
A total of 27 cash machines were tested using an RLU reader, in busy areas including Shepherd’s Bush, Shoreditch, Camden Market and Oxford Street. The reader tests swabs for adenosine triphosphate, or ATP – the chemical used by bacteria to process energy. It then gives a final RLU score: the higher the number, the dirtier the surface.
The grim news is that multiple ATMs around London are actually harbouring more bacteria than a door handle in a public loo. Two particularly grubby cashpoints (located at 420 Uxbridge Road and 45 The Strand, should you wish to avoid them) were dirtier on average than a toilet seat. The study also revealed that the grimiest part of a cash machine is the keyboard.
Researchers didn’t unearth any hidden hygienic gems – but the cleanest reading came from a second ATM on Uxbridge Road. Compared with its grubby neighbour at number 420 (which scored an RLU reading of 1049.75) this one scored a measly 166.5 – roughly equivalent to the amount of bacteria on a seat at a train station. The most consistently mucky area was Piccadilly Circus.
The good news is that not all bacteria are dangerous – and in fact, exposure to some types can help to protect us from diseases. The problem is, there’s just no way of telling what’s lurking in the crevices of an ATM. Sure, the keyboard might be covered in harmless bacteria, but equally, that nasty tummy bug going around the office might be all over the screen.
So slather on the anti-bac gel next time you get a tenner out, that’s our advice.