In wastewater treatment, the removal of heavy metals is difficult due to the limited affinity of heavy metal ions to ion exchange resins. Here imprinting polymerization is used to develop resins with high capacity and selectivity for heavy metal ions for water treatment. A random copolymer of methacrylate and methacrylamide was found to be most effective for the removal of hydrophilic metal complexes, like CdCl2, ZnCl2, and the metalloid NaH2AsO4, particularly when the porosity of these resins is increased. For hydrophobic complexes imprinting emulsion polymerization was developed and data for the effective removal of mercury dithizonate will be described. Complete removal for up to 80 ppm of cadmium and mercury with only 200 mg of imprinted resin was obtained; competition and co-imprinting experiments are described as well.

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