Laundered Money

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This blog was originally posted on March 14, 2011 at Please note, Dr Robson is not accepting donations at this time. However, he would greatly appreciate your comments and suggestions in support of his efforts.


I went to the bank over the weekend to withdraw some US currency. Credit cards are okay for major centers and gas stations but I've found that cash is more flexible in poor countries.  After I returned home, I recollected that I had some left over cash from the 2010 trip to Nicaragua. The money was stored in a small safe in my basement. When I opened the safe, the locker room smell was an immediate clue that there was a problem. The inside of the safe and the contents were covered in hundreds of colonies of red fuzzy mould. The US currency was the source. The bills, mostly ones and twos, which are great for a range of small thank you gifts, were stacked up, and the mould was tracking down the sides of the piles.  Everything else in the safe was either covered in mould or most certainly colonized. 

I gathered everything up and and went directly to a sink and disinfected the non paper contents and the cash.  I threw out the papers and file folders that were not essential and I put the important paper documents outside in the cold, dry Calgary air.  After rinsing everything and setting the contents in the window to enjoy the benefits of solar irradiation, I disinfected the sink with bleach. I disinfected the entire inside surface of the safe.  The inside surface was not conveniently smooth but I insured that every surface was wiped.  I left the safe open.  I transferred the soggy cash to the clothes drier and then I showered.

Afterwards I thought of a variety of missed opportunities.  The bills could have been examined to determine the source of the mould within the pile of currency.  I imagined the source was a well used wrinkled small denomination bill. I could have photographed the mould with a macro lens and saved a specimen to look at under my microscope at the office.  A specimen could have been sent to the university for identification.  

However, the moment I discovered the mould, my overwhelming thought was contagion control.  I did not want the Central American mould to spread out in my home. 

So, now we know why Central American drug dealers launder their money.  The humid climate causes mouldy money.