I  U  P  A  C

News & Notices

Organizations & People

Standing Committees







Links of Interest

Search the Site

Home Page




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.


  1. Physical and Biophysical Chemistry
  2. Inorganic Chemistry
  3. Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry
  4. Polymer
  5. Analytical Chemistry
  6. Chemistry and the Environment
  7. Chemistry and Human Health
  8. Chemical Nomenclature and Structure Representation

> View Organization chart


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 commerce.

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. These included:

  • 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 Kekul� in 1860.


IUPAC 's nomenclature books are used by professional chemists in academia, government and chemical industry throughout the world:

GOLD   Chemical Terminology
GREEN   Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry
RED   Nomenclature of Inorganic Chemistry
BLUE   Nomenclature of Organic Compounds
PURPLE   Macromolecular Nomenclature
ORANGE   Analytical Nomenclature
SILVER   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 properties.
  • 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 laboratories.
  • Protocol for self-auditing of analytical laboratories for ISO 9000 certification.
  • Quality assurance and sampling.
  • Standardization of immunoassay determinations.
  • Standard methods for the determination of trace elements in body fluids.
  • JCAMP-DX, a standard format for the exchange of spectra in computer readable form.
  • Experimental thermodynamics: measurement of the transport properties of fluids; solution calorimetry.

> View Current Projects


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

> View Calendar

IUPAC organizes a biennial Congress.
> View 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 Wars).

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.
Copyright � 1997-2007 International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Questions or comments about IUPAC
please contact the Secretariat.
Questions regarding the website
please contact Web Help.