4-vinyl pyridine (4-VP) based hydrogels with 2-hydroxyethylmetacrylate (HEMA) and magnetic composites were prepared and tested for use in the removal of UO22+. and Th4+ ions from aqueous environments. It was found that the absorption of these metal ions from aqueous environments decreased with an increase in the amount of HEMA contained within p(4-VP-co-HEMA) hydrogels between 0.498 mmol for pure p(4-VP) and 0.027 mmol for pure p(HEMA). The characterization of the hydrogels was determined by swelling experiments, FT-IR and thermal analysis. The effects of initial metal ion concentration, hydrogel amount and the temperature of the medium on absorption of the ions were investigated. Langmuir and Freundlich isotherms were constructed for the absorption of UO22+ and Th4+. Both isotherms demonstrated that these metal ions complied with monolayer absorption kinetics. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.