$2m worth of gold flushes through Swiss sewers each year

Scientists find gold worth $2 million in Switzerland sewage system

Scientists find gold worth $2 million in Switzerland sewage system

Scientists have struck gold in an unlikely place: Swiss sewage and waste water treatment plants.

Researchers from the government's institute of aquatic science and technology, EAWAG found three tons of silver and 43 kilograms of gold in Swiss sewage, worth around 3 million Swiss Francs ($3.1 million).

The estimate comes after studying 64 water treatment plants in Switzerland, concluding that at certain sites in Ticino region, concentrations of gold in the wastewater are "sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile".

The researchers believe the tiny flecks of gold flow into the waste water system from the country's famed watchmaking industry and gold refineries.

Moreover, the same research team discovered that in this particular area where most manufacturers established their headquarters and shops, the amount of gold was so significant, they could collect it.

The researchers estimated that over 6,500 pounds of silver (1.8 million Dollars at current prices) flows into Swiss waste water each year.

The concentrations of metals in most cases do not harm the environment, according to the study, which was commissioned by Switzerland's Federal Office for the Environment.

Researchers also found high levels of other metals and rare earths in the sludge, such as tantalum and germanium - both of which are used in the high-tech and pharmaceuticals sectors.

"It wouldn't make sense for people to boil their tap water to recover gold or silver because it has already been filtered out before it re-enters the drinking water supply", Vriens said.

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