The Biggest Gold Mine May Be in the Sewer

Precious metals may be found in more than just the bowels of the Earth. 

Human waste contains gold, silver, palladium, and other metals, says a new study, which argues that recovering these elements could reduce the need for mining. 

Metals are “in your hair care products, detergents, even nanoparticles are put in socks to prevent bad odors,” said Kathleen Smith, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, in a statement.

Smith led a team that examined metals in different waste samples using some of the same chemicals and techniques favored by industrial mining operations. 

“The gold we found was at the level of a minimal mineral deposit,” she said, adding that if that amount were discovered in a rock, it might be commercially viable to mine it.

Whether someone would wear something found in that way is, of course, another issue.

Smith presented her findings at the 249th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, which took place this week in Denver.

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JCK News Director