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12 October 2017, 12:32 | Devin Moran
Scientists say 43 kilos of gold is flushed through Swiss sewers each year
But, they did find that there were some sites where recovery of the gold could be viable, like in the refinery-rich Ticino region where concentrations of the precious metal were likely high enough to justify the extraction effort and cost.
Researchers sample the wastewater at Werdhölzli treatment plant in Zurich.
Other rare earth metals, like gadolinium and heavy meal niobium, were also found in the Swiss wastewater, the report details. "For example, the total aluminum and copper fluxes are equivalent, respectively, to only 0.2 and just under four per cent of annual Swiss imports".
According to Bloomberg, Switzerland is a major hub for gold refineries.
Around 70 per cent of the world's gold passes through the country's refineries on average every year, and the large amounts of gold can be attributed to this and the watch making industry, explained the report. 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.
Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute aquanaute and technology has estimated that approximately 43 kilograms of gold, worth about $ 1.8 million annually passes through the waste water. However, all analysis came within safe limits, although the EAWAG have warned that little is known as yet about the potential toxicological effects of many trace elements.
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