Monodispersed poly(acrylonitrile) [p(AN)] particles were prepared by surfactant free emulsion polymerization and the hydrophobic nitrite groups were converted to hydrophilic amidoxime groups by treatment with hydroxylamine hydrochloride (NH2OH center dot HCl) in water. The p(AN) and amidoximated p(AN) [amid-p(AN)] particles were characterized by Fourier transformation infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy, thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The prepared particles were used as adsorbents in the removal from aqueous media of three different types of pollutants; organic dyes methylene blue (MB), and rhodamine 6 G (R6G), a heavy metal ion Cd (II), and a herbicide paraquat (PQ). The effects of various parameters such as amidoximation, pH of solution, amount of particles, and the initial concentration of solution were investigated. Upon amidoximation, a great increase in the adsorption capacity of the prepared particles was observed as the adsorbed amounts were increased to 87, 91, 74, and 91 mg/g from 5, 1.54, 1.06, and 1.22 mg/g for Cd (II), MB, R6G, and PQ, respectively. The amid-p(AN) particles were also able to remove considerable amounts of these pollutants from tap, river, and sea water. Langmuir, Freundlich, and Temkin adsorption isotherms were applied and it was found that the adsorption of Cd (II) and PQ followed the Langmuir adsorption model, whereas the adsorption of MB was found to obey the Freundlich adsorption isotherm. Pseudo first-order and pseudo second-order kinetics were also applied and the results showed that the adsorption processes of Cd (II), PQ, MB, and R6G follow pseudo second-order kinetics. (C) 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.