Dithiocarbamate-incorporated monosize polystyrene based microspheres (2 mu m in diameter) were used for selective removal of Hg(II) from aqueous solutions containing different amounts of Hg(II) (10-100 ppm). Adsorption rates were observed as high at the beginning of adsorption and then equilibrium was reached in about 30 min. The maximum Hg(II) adsorption capacity of the dithiocarbamate-incorporated PS microspheres was about 33.2 mg per gram of dry polymer, which was observed at pH 7.0. While non-specific Hg(II) adsorption onto the plain microspheres was 0.85 mg per gram of dry microsphere. The Hg(II) adsorption ability increased with increasing pH, in the range where the solubility of the Hg(II) was not affected by the pH. The preferential (i.e., competitive adsorption) binding of Hg(II) by the microspheres implies that this sorbent system might contain higher-affinity binding sites for Hg(ll) than Cu(II), Cd(II) and Pb(II) ions. More than 96% of the adsorbed Hg(II) was desorbed in 15 min by using 0.1 M HNO3 as an elution agent. The regeneration of the dithiocarbamate-incorporated PS microspheres was also sufficient. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.