AbstractTo develop low-cost and environmentally friendly polymeric materials for enrichment, separation, and remediation of metal ions from water, graft copolymers based on cellulose extracted from pine needles were synthesized by grafting of 2-hydroxy methacrylate (HEMA) alone and with comonomers acrylic acid, acrylamide, and acrylonitrile by benzoyl peroxide initiation. The effects of change in concentrations of monomer and initiator, reaction time and temperature; and nature and composition of solvent system on graft yield and grafting efficiency were evaluated. At the optimum reaction conditions evaluated for the grafting of HEMA alone, comonomers as acrylamide, acrylic acid, and acrylonitrile at their five different concentrations were also co-grafted along with HEMA onto cellulose backbone polymer. Graft copolymers were further functionalized by partial hydrolysis, and were characterized by water uptake, FTIR, and elemental analysis. Sorption of Fe2+, Cu2+ and Cr6+ ions on graft copolymers were investigated to define their end-uses in separation technologies.