The price tag on the accumulated gold: roughly $2 million.
At certain sites such as Ticino, where several gold refineries are present, the concentration of the yellow metal in the sewage sludge is high enough for the recovery to be "potentially worthwhile", said a press release published by Eawag scientists on October 10.
Still, gold is not the only prized possession coursing through the sewage pipes in Switzerland.
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The discovery was made after researchers studied 64 water treatment plants in Switzerland.
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.
Other rare earth metals, like gadolinium and heavy meal niobium, were also found in the Swiss wastewater, the report details. For example, the total aluminium and copper fluxes are equivalent, respectively, to only 0.2 and just under 4 per cent of annual Swiss imports.
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The researchers believe the tiny flecks of gold flow into the waste water system from the country's famed watchmaking industry and gold refineries. It's also reported that about 70 per cent of the world's gold is refined in the country every year. A group of researchers led by Eawag environmental chemists Bas Vriens and Michael Berg has now carried out the first systematic, quantitative assessment of elements discharged in effluents or disposed of in sewage sludge.
Millions of dollars worth of gold and silver are flushed away in Switzerland each year, a new study has found.
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