The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) serves to advance the worldwide aspects of the chemical sciences and to contribute to the application of chemistry in the service of Mankind. As a scientific, international, non-governmental and objective body, IUPAC can address many global issues involving the chemical sciences.
IUPAC was formed in 1919 by chemists from industry and academia.
Over nearly eight decades, the Union has succeeded in fostering worldwide
communications in the chemical sciences and in uniting academic, industrial
and public sector chemistry in a common language. IUPAC has long been
recognized as the world authority on chemical nomenclature, terminology,
standardized methods for measurement, atomic weights and many other
critically evaluated data. The Union continues to sponsor major international
meetings that range from specialized scientific symposia to CHEMRAWN
meetings with societal impact. During the Cold War, IUPAC became an
important instrument for maintaining technical dialogue among scientists
throughout the world.
IUPAC is an association of bodies, National Adhering Organizations,
which represent the chemists of different member countries. There are
45 National Adhering Organizations,
and 20 other countries are also linked to IUPAC in the status of Associate
National Adhering Organizations. Almost 1000 chemists throughout
the world are engaged on a voluntary basis in the scientific work of
IUPAC, primarily through projects,
which are components of eight Divisions
and several other Committees.
- Physical and Biophysical Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Organic and Biomolecular
- Analytical Chemistry
- Chemistry and the Environment
- Chemistry and Human Health
- Chemical Nomenclature
and Structure Representation
> View Organization
IUPAC was formed in 1919 by chemists from industry and academia,
who recognized the need for international standardization in chemistry.
The standardization of weights, measures, names and symbols is essential
to the well being and continued success of the scientific enterprise
and to the smooth development and growth of international trade and
This desire for international cooperation among chemists and facilitation
of the work of the international, but fragmented, chemistry community
were the earliest characteristics of the Union. Even before the creation
of IUPAC (1919), a predecessor body, the International Association
of Chemical Societies (IACS), had met in Paris in 1911 and produced
a set of proposals for the work that the new Association should address.
- Nomenclature of inorganic and organic chemistry;
- Standardization of atomic weights;
- Standardization of physical constants;
- Editing tables of properties of matter;
- Establishing a commission for the review of work;
- Standardization of the formats of publications;
- Measures required to prevent repetition of the same papers.
Although 1911 might now seem an early date for chemists to start talking
about the possibility of and need for international collaboration and
standardization, the first international attempt at organizing organic
chemical nomenclature -- the Geneva Nomenclature of 1892 -- grew out
of a series of international meetings, the first of which was organized
by Kekulé in 1860.
IUPAC 's nomenclature
books are used by professional chemists in academia, government
and chemical industry throughout the world:
|| Chemical Terminology
|| Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry
|| Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry
|| Nomenclature of Organic Compounds
|| Nomenclature and Symbols in Clinical Chemistry
IUPAC is well known for publishing definitive and up-to-date
data on atomic weights and isotopic abundances. It also publishes a
wide variety of other chemical data of immense value to chemists and
chemical engineers. For example:
- International thermodynamic tables of the fluid state. A recent
volume in this series provides data on methanol. This is most appropriate
at a time when its uses are expanding as a result of environmental
legislation requiring the use of cleaner fuels.
- Solubility data series, over 70 volumes of data in this series have
already been published.
- Stability constants, this database of metal-complex stability constants
available on disk contains nearly 25,000 pieces of data.
- Enthalpies of vaporization of organic compounds.
- Thermodynamic and transport properties of alkali metals.
- Recommended reference materials for achievement of specific physicochemical
- Evaluated kinetic and photochemical data for atmospheric chemistry
IUPAC is widely involved in establishing standard methods for
use in analytical, clinical, quality control and research laboratories.
Some examples are:
- Standard methods for the analysis of oils, fats and derivatives.
- Harmonization of international quality assurance schemes for analytical
- Protocol for self-auditing of analytical laboratories for ISO 9000
- Quality assurance and sampling.
- Standardization of immunoassay determinations.
- Standard methods for the determination of trace elements in body
- JCAMP-DX, a standard format for the exchange of spectra in computer
- Experimental thermodynamics: measurement of the transport properties
of fluids; solution calorimetry.
The various Commissions and Committees of IUPAC have undertaken
an extensive array of environmental projects. Some examples follow:
- Environmental analytical chemistry
- Environmental particles
- Polymer recycling
- Determination of trace elements in the environment
- Gas kinetic data for atmospheric chemistry
- Glossary of atmospheric chemistry terms
- Pesticides in surface water
IUPAC Congress and Other Meetings
IUPAC organizes a biennial Congress.
the list of all General Assemblies and Congresses of IUPAC
The history of the Congress sponsored by IUPAC and the predecessor IACS
goes back to 1894 (with long interruptions resulting from two World
Each year IUPAC sponsors a large number of independently organized
symposia that cover a wide range of specialized topics in chemistry.
Sponsorship by IUPAC attests to the quality of the scientific program
and indicates the host country,s assurance that scientists from all
countries may participate.
IUPAC sponsors a continuing series
of conferences on CHEMical Research Applied to
World Needs (CHEMRAWN). These meetings focus on topics
in chemistry that have socio-political impact, such as availability
of raw materials, food chemistry, and environmental matters.
The Future of IUPAC
Chemistry historically emerged and developed as an interdisciplinary
scientific field, with a broad definition of its borders. Paraphrasing
Linus Pauling's definition of the chemical bond "whatever is convenient
to the chemist to define as a bond", chemistry can be defined as a discipline
encompassing all areas which are of interest to chemists and where molecular
science makes significant contributions. The rich and diverse world
of modern chemistry encompasses remarkable intellectual accomplishments,
scientific creativity and originality and the generation of new knowledge.
IUPAC serves the international scientific endeavor in the dual
function of a basic science and a mission-oriented Union. The Union
is in a unique position to contribute to the central interdisciplinary
chemical sciences. Strengthening international chemistry, striving towards
inspiring high standards of excellence and relevance in academic and
industrial research and promoting the service of chemistry to society
and to global issues, these are the visions that shape IUPAC's activities
towards the 21st century.
Strategic Plan -- 2002-2003
> most recent report
of IUPAC activities 2004-05
> overview poster (pdf file - 74KB)
Page last modified 18 April 2007.
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