Scientists find gold worth $2 million in Swiss sewage

In Switzerland they just throw this stuff away

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

A study by environmental chemists Eawag discovered 1.5 million francs worth of gold and silver each are lost through sludge from wastewater treatment plants in addition to rare earth metals such as gadolinium and the heavy metal niobium.

That's over $2.25 million in gold and $2.12 million in silver, researchers report.

Millions of dollars worth of gold and silver are flushed away in Switzerland each year, a new study has found. At certain sites in Ticino, concentrations of gold in sewage sludge are sufficiently high for recovery to be potentially worthwhile.

The study, commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, involved surveys of 64 waste water treatment plants across the country.

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Still, gold is not the only prized possession coursing through the sewage pipes in Switzerland.

"The recovery of metals from wastewater or sludge is scarcely worthwhile at present, either financially or in terms of the amounts which could be extracted", the study said.

In addition to gold, nearly 3,000 kg of silver - equivalent to a value of Rs 11 crore- was going to waste every year, most if being residue from chemical and medical industries.

Switzerland seems like a lovely place to live: snowy mountain peaks to ski, lakeside cities to explore, and 43 kilograms of gold flowing through the sewers that no one seems all that anxious about.

What's more, just last month, Swiss investigators tracked the discovery of cut-up paper bills amounting to 100,000 euros ($120,000) - also found in the sewage system.