Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Scientists find $1.8 million worth of gold in Switzerland wastewater

Scientists find $1.8 million worth of gold in Switzerland wastewater

Millions of dollars worth of gold and silver are flushed away in Switzerland each year, a new study has found. Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology estimate that about 43 kilograms of gold - worth about $1.8 million - passes through the country's wastewater every year.

"Trace elements are increasingly widely used in the high-tech and medical sectors - for example, the transition metal tantalum and the semimetal germanium in electronic components, niobium and titanium in alloys and coatings, or gadolinium as a contrast medium and in luminous paints", the study said.

The concentrations of elements pose no risk to the environment as most cases lay below harmful limits.

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.

According to the publication Bloomberg, in some parts of the southern district of Ticino "the concentration of gold in the wastewater is high enough and potentially valuable", - said in a report published on Tuesday.

The discovery was made after researchers studied 64 water treatment plants in Switzerland.

Scientists had originally feared a repeat of the critical concentrations of rare earth metals lanthanum and samarium now found in the Rhine. At the same time, as the authors emphasize, little is known as yet about the potential toxicological effects of many emerging trace elements.

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