Adsorption of Cd(II) and Zn(II) ions in single solutions using extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) from activated sludge was investigated. Langmuir and Freundlich models were applied to describe metal adsorption. The results showed that EPS was an effective adsorbent for the zinc and cadmium ions from aqueous solution. The equilibrium metal uptake was increased with increasing the initial concentration of metal ion. Constants calculated from isotherms model showed that the maximum uptake capacity of cadmium was estimated to be 45 mg/g of Cd(II) and 80 mg/g of Zn(II). Both Langmuir and Freundlich isotherms were suitable for describing adsorption of Cd(II) by EPS, while the Langmuir isotherm equation fit the date of Zn(II) adsorption better, indicating that EPS adsorb Cd(II) and Zn(II) by different mechanisms.

Analysis of FTIR spectra demonstrated that C-O-C of polysaccharides at 1,150–1,030 cm−1, group of the amide(I), CH2 group of the lipids, carboxyl and -OH groups of proteins and polysaccharides were involved in cadmium and zinc binding, of which the -OH groups and the C-O-C group of polysaccharides.