You may have seen a scary headline recently that goes something like this:

“POLICE WARN ABOUT PICKING UP FOLDED DOLLARS THAT COULD KILL ANYONE”

Here’s a warning from Alabama. Here’s another one from Florida. Even Newsweek ran a similar headline.

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The stories all warn about evil people leaving drug-laced, folded dollar bills lying around in public that (GASP!) “your own child could pick up and OD on!!!!”

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How much should you be concerned about?

Right off the top, it needs to be said: that fentanyl is a legitimately dangerous, dangerous drug.  According to the Centers for Disease Control fentanyl is “HUNDREDS of times” more potent than heroin. So, it’s serious business.

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However…lots and lots of medical experts have gone on the record as stating that it is just NOT possible to overdose from coming into casual contact with fentanyl.

Also, all the headlines apparently stem from just TWO cases of folded dollars, both of them from the same county in Tennessee. As SNOPES reports, “Authorities in Perry County, TN. cautioned local residents about two incidents where folded dollars containing a powder that tested positive for fentanyl and methamphetamine we found on the floor of the same gas station.

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When these reports get shared on social media it usually comes with the implication that “crazed drug dealers” are intentionally leaving folded fentanyl dollars for the purpose of poisoning (dun, dun, DUN!) “the children”.

This is unconvincing for a couple of reasons. 1.) Actual drug dealers are not usually in the habit of giving their product out randomly for free, much less with a bonus dollar as part of the deal.

And, 2.) anyone who knows even a little bit about how drugs are carried realizes that this is a case of someone whose pockets were a little loose and their drug dollar probably fell out when they were getting their wallet. Mystery solved.

Far from an insidious plot, somebody probably spent the rest of the night wondering where their two-buck loads of Goodfella went.

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