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gold prospecting in swiss sewers? hmm
$2 million worth of gold flushes through Swiss sewers each year

Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Scientists reported that about millions of dollars worth of gold and silver float through Switzerland's sewer systems every year.

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.

"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. "While the ultimate fate of the various elements has been little studied to date, a large proportion is known to enter wastewater."

Eawag said that distribution of the trace amounts of precious metals varies greatly throughout the country but were elevated in Jura, likely due to the presence of the watchmaking industry.

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