Contaminated Cash Sends Kansas City Federal Reserve Worker To Hospital

Jun 27, 2013

KC Fire Department team searches Federal Reserve Bank for suspected health hazard.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

The physical handling of millions of dollars in old cash had resumed at mid-afternoon Thursday at Kansas City’s Federal Reserve Bank.

Some airborne irritant, initially thought to have been hazardous, sent one worker to a hospital and forced a slowdown of the operation.

An armored truck had delivered what looked to be a regular shipment of cash destined for shredding. It went, as do multiple daily truckloads, to a loading dock at the Reserve when one worker started having trouble breathing.  

What appeared to be a mold was inside a package of bills, according to Kansas City Fire Battalion Chief James Garrett--  “as that package was opened,  there was a substance that was recognized. It was visibly recognized.  The person who was exposed to that package, whatever they were breathing in, became short of breath.”

Kansas City Fire Battalion Chief James Garrett outside Federal Reserve Bank.
Credit Dan Verbeck / KCUR

The worker was decontaminated and sent to a hospital for treatment of what medics considered a possible life threatening condition. 

Three other nearby workers were washed down as a precaution.

Speaking for the Federal Reserve Bank, Bill Medley later said the troublesome contaminant was  not considered hazardous.

Work resumed,  destroying an estimated daily load of old bills worth at least $3.7 million.