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Canadian paper money to become plastic

March 5, 2010 at 10:55 AM

OTTAWA, March 5 (UPI) -- Canada's paper and cotton $10 and $20 bills will be replaced late next year with longer-lasting plasticized versions, the government announced in Ottawa.

As part of the federal budget released by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in parliament Thursday, the move to more durable currency was revealed as a means to extend the life of bills by as much as three times, the Globe and Mail reported Friday.

Australia was the first country to go the plastic money route, and Bank of Canada spokeswoman Julie Girard said there are several factors that make it a good investment.

Apart from lasting longer, the synthetic polymer bills will be more difficult to counterfeit, she said. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported there were more than 141,000 counterfeit bills detected worth more than $3.3 million in 2007, the Globe said.

Hygiene and epidemiology also played a role in the decision, the report said. The money's plastic surface doesn't absorb oil and sweat from human hands. In 2007, Swiss researchers said they discovered flu viruses could survive in traditional paper bills for as long as 17 days, the newspaper said.

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