Every time you flush the toilet after a number two, you are flushing away millions of dollars worth of gold.
Okay, well maybe not every time.
But scientists say there are enough traces of precious metals in our waste to eventually amount to a valuable worth if collected properly.
Hold up, so every single time we poop, we're sh*tting gold?
Sort of. The US Geological Survey sampled sewage and found that the small amounts of metals our bodies processed and digested become gold and silver over time, and quite a bit of it too.
The Guardian reports that during the eight-year study, which involved monthly testing of treated sewage samples, researchers were able to extract 0.4 mg of gold, 28 mg of silver, 638 mg of copper and 49 mg of vanadium (the component used in our cell phones that is as expensive as it sounds) in just two pounds of poo.
Those levels are comparable to some commercial gold mines. So, essentially, the next California Gold Rush is actually happening in our pants.
Extracting all these small, tiny particles from sewage definitely sounds like a job I'd wish on my worst enemy, but apparently we have the technology to do this with minimal human effort.
Powerful chemicals called leachates can be used to remove metals from just about anything.
In fact, this exact technique is used today to remove metals from rocks underneath the ground.
However, the chemicals can be quite dangerous, and harmful if they leak into the ecosystems the extraction zones are found in.
But, scientists would be able to extract these valuable metals, which are put in all kinds of things (think shampoo, detergent, anything that cleans or makes us smell amazing), in the safety of a sewage plant, thereby saving the environment from continued destruction.
The Guardian also reports that a previous study from Arizona State University shows the potential value of sh*t from a city with one million residents each year is approximately $13 million.
I think science just gave us the answer again.
The answer to restoring our ecosystems, while making millions of dollars, has been inside of us all along.