Institute of Atmospheric pollution Research (IIA)



The Institute has been able to create a complex and efficient system of collaboration to augment its own research and development. Working in conjunction with a number of public and private institutions on national and international levels, the Institute and its partners have collaborated in a manner mutually beneficial for those involved. These collaborations are described below, listed by organization or institution.

Italian Universities

The Institute's relationship with Italian Universities has been profitable and constructive, both in achieving important scientific outcomes and in interacting with University Institutes that have the ability, unlike public research institutes, to provide training for young researchers. In addition, our collaborative work with University Institutes has stimulated cutting-edge research in areas that are just in their infancy. Universities interested in collaborating with the Institute have been both Italian and foreign, and among these, there have been Universities from both and within the European Community and outside of it. Our primary active collaboration, with the University of Calabria in Rende, has enabled us to establish a Branch Institute that is now housed on the campus of the University. In addition, researchers at the University of Rome (particularly those in Lazio) play a very important role in developing new analytical and observational techniques. Our Institute has developed meaningful collaborative relationships with the departments of chemistry, physics and plant biology, and we have worked extensively with the faculty of architecture in the field of remote sensing. More recently we have fostered an active collaboration with the faculty of engineering, in the surveying of landscapes. We have entered into agreements with the University of Lecce and CONISMA in applying remote sensing to the study of biodiversity, and we have collaborated with the University of Siena in researching polar areas. We collaborated with Milan Bicocca for hyperspectral remote sensing, and with Rome in conserving works of art. And we maintain an active collaboration with the University of Parma is the field of remote sensing. More recently, the Institute has initiated collaborative research with the University of Salerno, in determining the isotopic ratio of carbon dioxide.

Foreign Universities

The IIA-CNR has enjoyed important collaborations with foreign universities that are often linked to the Institute by virtue of EU agreements. The Institute has collaborated with a number of universities both inside and outside of the European Union. Of particular importance is our collaboration with Tsinghua and Peking Universities, with whom we have worked to forecast air pollution in this country. We have also had a very active collaboration with universities throughout the Mediterranean region, such as those in Algiers, Ankara and Haifa, some of which have contributed to the study of the mercury cycle. With regard to universities in the United States, we have ongoing collaborations with the University of Michigan, the University of Washington, and Harvard University, just to cite few, to study mercury and POPs pollution on a global scale, the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and the vertical distribution of pollutants in the troposphere using aerial platforms.

CNR Institutes

The Institute has also made valuable contacts with other CNR Institutes who operate in environmental fields. These contacts have led to numerous collaborations and a natural partnership with the Department of Earth and Environment (DTA) of the CNR that the institute is part of. Of great strategic importance has been the collaborative work done in the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Program (IPPC), with the Ministry of Environment. This work has involved the Institute for Water Research in the study of noise pollution and combustion, in order to draw guidelines for the management of pollution from industrial activities. Also noteworthy has been our collaboration with institutions interested in remote-sensing issues, as well as those interested in the preservation of art, such as the Institute for Research on Electromagnetic Waves (IROE) and the "Gino Bozza" Milan Branch of the Institute for Conservation and Promotion of Cultural Heritage (ICVBC). In relation to remote sensing technologies, we have active agreements with the Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis (IMAA) in Potenza, and with the Istituto del Mare.

Italian Public Research Entities

Italian Public Research Entities have a very similar role to that of the Institutes of the CNR, and our partnerships with them have been important for the development of professional activities within the Institute. The entities with whom we work are specifically interested in environmental issues. Among these, both the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Prevention (ISPESL, now INAIL) and the National Institute of Health (ISS) are considered strategically important, as the Institute has worked with them to characterize aerosols in urban areas and measure particulates in terms of their toxic and carcinogenic components. Our remote sensing collaboration with the Italian Space Agency (ASI) also marked a very important moment, in light of the many practical applications of using hyperspectral methods in land and ecosystem observation from space.

External Public Research Entities

One of our most important international collaborative efforts has been undertaken with the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), with whom the Institute is working to develop new analytical methods for polar activities. This work was in collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute, the Paul Sherrer Institute (PSI) in Switzerland, and the Laboratory of Glaciology and Geophysical Environment in the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Grenoble, France. In addition, we have collaborated with the NILU on the study of mercury, a project that has also involved the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL). We have also cooperated with external entities on other important research projects, including one with the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), a project that led to important results relating to research on aerosols and their chemical and physical characterization. Another was with the Center for the Study of the Mediterranean Environment (CEAM), where we collaborated in characterizing the chemical and physical changes in gaseous organic substances. The Institute has also cultivated relationships with Chinese institutions, and we have begun a promising collaboration with the Chinese Environmental Protection Agency. In this collaboration the Institute, in addition to providing technical support for monitoring activities, has helped to develop environmental legislation. Finally, the Institute has an ongoing project in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that focuses both on acid compounds containing nitrogen and on the distribution of mercury in the environment.

Government Ministries

The Institute has been at the forefront of developing partnerships with ministries in the Italian government, particularly with the Ministry of Land and Environment. In collaboration with the ministries the Institute has solved practical problems of great importance and has had occasion to advance development of environmental technologies. These collaborations with the Ministry of Environment range from the evaluation of fine fraction aerosols to providing operational support and technical advice in the adoption of air quality directives. Within a framework of international collaboration, the government has made the Institute responsible for deploying a monitoring network in the Chinese city of Suzhou, the first example of differing measurement techniques for measuring air pollution being integrated into one network. Similarly, under the IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control) Directive, and in conjunction with other CNR Institutes, government ministries have given the IIA a very important role in the study of pollution produced by industrial activities. The government has also given us the task of developing environmental terminology, and we are now an Institute of Primary Reference for delineating standards and approving and certifying tools for various monitoring networks. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, University, and Research, the Institute has set up programs for the FIRB (Fund for Investment in Basic Research), PRIN (Research Programs of National Interest), POR (Regional Operational Program) projects, as well as for other projects funded by the European Commission. The Institute has also worked with both the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior, in a number of areas of great importance to the country (see section on Armed Forces, described below). In collaboration with the Ministry of Health, we developed Research Units that report to the National Institute of Health and ISPESL (See section on Italian Public Research Bodies).The Institute also collaborates with the Ministry of Defense, to combat environmental crime.

Local Entities

Our studies of environmental issues are normally directed toward general environmental issues, perhaps with reference to European legislation. Accordingly, opportunities for collaborating with local authorities might appear very limited. Yet, some environmental problems have presented situations where the solutions were decidedly local, and the Institute has often collaborated with local government agencies to respond to these challenges. For example, we recently entered into an agreement with the region of Lazio, to study biomass-combustion plants that produce electricity and heat. Specifically, we are working to define atmospheric pollutant emission factors (as they vary with different types of biomass, i.e., firewood, pellets) towards the goal of abatement.

European Commission

The IIA collaborates with the European Union by participating in working groups that are responsible for drafting and/or enforcing air quality directives. Once example of this has been our work with the Steering Group of the CAFE Program (Clean Air For Europe). The Institute, on behalf of the Ministry of Environment, has also coordinated the activities of the working group that drafted the technical basis of the European directive on mercury. With regard to technical activities, the Institute has collaborated with other scientific institutions at the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), and has assumed an active role in the AQUILA Laboratories, the primary reference laboratories for air quality in Europe. In addition, the Institute has actively participated in an important EU initiative on the characterization of particulates, in order to develop guidelines for measuring natural components in suspended particulate materials. In particular, we have focused on Saharan dust and ocean spray, and on the chemical transformation of volatile organic substances (of natural origins, emitted by vegetation).

United Nations Organizations

The Institute plays a leading role in a number of international programs and conventions, including: the International Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution (UNECE-LRTAP), the Task Force on Atmospheric Pollution on a Hemispheric Scale (TF HTAP), the EMEP Program designed to monitor background air pollution that is part of the UNECE-LRTAP, UNEP Chemicals, and the mercury program aimed at preparing international protocols for the UNEP Governing Council in 2013. In this context, the Institute coordinated the international partnerships that prepared the technical-scientific report for the Governing Council in 2009. As part of the Group of Earth Observation (GEO) Work Plan for 2015-2018 the Institute coordinates the Task HE-02 on Tracking pollutants which includes Hg and POPs. The institute coordinates several activities in UNEP, specifically the Global Partnership for Mercury Research and Transport (UNEP F&T). The institute has provided a significant contribution to the preparation for he Global Treaty on Mercury (Minamata Convention) as chair of the UNEP F&T partnership since 2006.


Our collaborative relationship with industry is of great importance for the Institute, both for studying environmental problems associated with industrial activity and for the development of new materials and devices to safeguard the environment. One important aspect of our collaborative work has been to promote international trade. For example, in developing the monitoring network in the City of Suzhou (China), the Institute utilized technology developed by Italian companies, facilitating their entrance into the Chinese market. Yet another very important aspect of our collaboration with industry has been the development of remote sensing techniques. Here the CNR has participated in the CISIG Research Consortium, of which our Director is currently the president, and we have worked closely with the Compagnia Generale Ripreseaeree SPA company, who manages and calibrates the MIVIS spectrometer that is owned by the CNR. In addition, we have collaborated with industry in the field of remote observation, and this type of collaboration extends to a number of industries in a number of different fields. Finally, the IIA, acting to certify the monitoring facilities of industrial emissions, has several ongoing activities related to the testing and certification of equipment for measuring stack emissions found in high-production industrial plants The certification also extends to instruments that measure air quality, in accordance with the Institute's testing mandate conferred by its status as the primary reference laboratory for air pollution. This testing and collaborative work applies to a number of industries, including those of oil, steel, energy production, and manufacturing.

Armed Forces

The Italian Armed Forces conduct a variety of complex institutional tasks and the Institute has been called upon to establish a number of collaborative programs. These include a project with the Aeronautic Meteorology Service, for studying some processes related to global climate change. At the same time, we have been collaborating on an important staff training program for the Italian Army, focusing on characterizing toxic compounds that could enter an environment as a result of war, or terrorism. We have also participated in important initiatives relating to PON Security, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior (Police), and we have also collaborated with the Carabinieri on programs to safeguard the public and the environment. In this context, the Institute has just signed a four-year agreement with the General Command of the Carabinieri in relation to using hyperspectral remote sensing techniques to monitoring and safeguarding the landscape.

Funds rising capacity:

During the last 5 years the Institute has been very successful in placing its researchers into international scientific networks of great renown. These networks have the capacity to raise funds to finance national and international projects, and deliver important scientific results, in terms of publication, instrumentation, software, and the transfer of technology/expertise to public and private organizations.

The IIA has increased its ability to raise funds from public and private entities on national, European and international levels. The portion of the budget coming from external funds has been in the range of 7.2-4.4 MEUR/yr during the 2011-2014 period placing its self among the top 10 most funded institute (from external sources) within the CNR.