Scientists find gold in Swiss sewage system

13 Oct 2017


Researchers have uncovered gold from the unlikeliest of places - sewage, Swiss sewage to be more accurate.

The precious metal has been recovered from Swiss sewage and waste water treatment plants, CNN Money reported.

According to scientists conducting the research, around 95 pounds of the rich material is flushed through the Swiss sewage systems each year and the price tag on the accumulated gold works out to roughly $2 million.

The study was conducted by an aquatic science institute called Eawag.

Scientists speculate that flecks of gold enter the waste water system from the country's watchmaking industry and even gold refineries.

The sweeping study, which was commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, analysed 64 waste water treatment plants in the country, CNN Money reported.

Certain areas of the country were found to have greater concentration of the metal, with one section near refineries boasting elevated levels of the metal.

But gold is not the only pricey metal flowing through the sewage system in Switzerland, there is silver that can be extricated as well.

According to researchers' speculation, the silver findings (and that of other rare minerals) could be traced to the nation's manufacturing of electronic devices.

The Swiss waste water system is estimated to process 6,500 pounds of silver each year translating to about $1.8 million, according to CNN Money.

In the study commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, researchers surveyed 64 waste water treatment plants across the country.

"Concentrations of gold in sewage sludge are sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile," the researchers wrote.

According to the researchers, more than 6,500 pounds of silver ($1.8 million at current prices) flows into Swiss waste water each year.

In September, Swiss investigators launched a probe into why two Spanish women flushed roughly €100,000 ($120,000) down toilets in Geneva.

According to the Geneva Prosecutors' Office, cut-up €500 bills were found to have been flushed down toilets at a UBS bank branch and three nearby restaurants.

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