A media for removal of heavy metals from an aqueous system comprising a mixture of nano alumina fibers and a ferric or manganic compound selected from the group consisting of hydroxides, oxyhydroxides, oxides and hydroxyoxides and mixtures thereof. The nano alumina is preferably produced by hydrothermal digestion of aluminum hydroxide, is treated with alkaline, followed by the addition of a ferric or manganic salt to form a gel like mass that is dried, heat treated, ground and sieved to form the sorbent. Alternatively a non-woven media is formed by adding mineral fiber such as microglass to the hydrothermal step. The resulting mulch is treated with alkaline and subsequently an iron and/or manganic compound, wet laid and dried to form the fibrous sorbent. Removal of heavy metals from the aqueous system is readily accomplished by contacting the aqueous system with the media until the heavy metal is substantially removed from the aqueous system.
 The subject invention was made with support under a research project supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and during a Department of Energy Cooperative Research and Development (CRADA) Agreement (No. 99-USIC-MULTILAB-04). Accordingly, the government has certain rights in this invention.