Severn Trent Services and Bayer AG announced an agreement between the two companies to distribute a proprietary media that removes arsenic from drinking water.

This long-term agreement provides Severn Trent with global distribution rights for Bayer's Bayoxide E33 media. Developed and produced by Bayer, the granular ferric oxide (GFO) media efficiently adsorbs tirvalent arsenite (As III) and pentavalent arsenate (As V) from water sources, and can be used in a range of treatment applications from large-scale municipal facilities to rural well sites to in-the-home, point-of-use systems.

Variations of the media, which will also adsorb other contaminants including antimony, chromate, lead, selenium and vanadium, are under development.

"Conquering global health issues such as arsenic in our drinking water requires the focus, resources and global reach of companies that can provide viable solutions," said Dr. Hu Fleming, vice president of Water Purification Solutions for Severn Trent Services. "We are extremely pleased to be working in collaboration with Bayer to provide a new and efficient arsenic removal technology that could improve and extend the lives of millions," he said.

Excessively high levels of arsenic concentrations are found in the ground water of many countries. It is estimated that over 100 million people worldwide, approximately 13 million in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, drink water contaminated with arsenic. Medical studies have shown that long-term contamination can lead to serious health problems.

As a result of these studies, the World Health Organization recommended in 1992 a threshold limit for arsenic in drinking water of 10 parts per billion (ppb). A European Union (EU) Directive introduced in 1998 establishes this threshold across the whole of the EU and will be compulsory in England beginning next year. The U.S. has also recently committed to achieving this threshold by 2006.

Under the agreement with Bayer, Severn Trent will develop arsenic removal systems utilizing Bayoxide E33 and market the technologies around the world. The companies will also continue cooperation in the testing of new synthetic iron oxides for the purification of other types of drinking water sources.