What Is the IUPAC and What Does It Do?

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The IUPAC is the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. It is an international scientific organization, not affiliated with any government. The IUPAC strives to advance chemistry, in part by setting global standards for names, symbols, and units. Nearly 1200 chemists are involved in IUPAC projects. Eight standing committees oversee the Union's work in chemistry.

The Role of IUPAC

The IUPAC was formed in 1919 by scientists and academicians who recognized a need for standardization in chemistry. The predecessor of the IUPAC, the International Association of Chemical Societies (IACS), met in Paris in 1911 to propose issues that needed to be addressed. From the beginning, the organization has sought international cooperation between chemists. In addition to setting guidelines, the IUPAC sometimes helps to resolve disputes. An example is the decision to use the name 'sulfur' instead of both 'sulfur' and 'sulphur'.