Water-soluble and crosslinked water-insoluble polymers having suitable functional groups are capable to retain metal ion pollutants through ion exchange or complexation, allowing their remove from contaminated water streams. The polymeric sorbents can be obtained by polymerization of monomers containing the functional groups or by post-functionalization, also, with the aim to enhance their performance, the sorbents can be loaded with inorganic (nano)particles or coupled with membrane processes. This paper is an overview of the versatile polymer materials containing different functional groups at the main or side chain to remove hazardous inorganic species. These materials include water-insoluble, nanocomposite and water-soluble polymers. Water-insoluble polymers and nanocomposites are used in adsorption and ion exchange processes, whereas water-soluble polymers are employed with ultrafiltration membranes in the liquid-phase polymer-based retention technique.
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