Italy

The Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) – The Italian National Institute of Health – is the leading technical and scientific public body of the Italian National Health Service. Its activities include research, control, training and consultation in the interest of public health protection. The ISS is involved in collaboration and consultation with other institutions responsible for public health, including the Ministry of Health, the regional health authorities, local health agencies and hospitals.

In particular, the Department of Environment and Health has the mission to protect the human population through the definition and control of types and sources of chemical and biological risks, especially of environmental origin. It defines guidelines for the implementation of environmental (bio) monitoring programs and proposes preventive measures for risk management and reduction. Scientific activities include studies on exposure to chemical, physical and biological agents, and their effects on human health and on environment (water, air, soil). Special consideration is given to: persistent toxic pollutants (PTS such as PAHs, dioxins, PCBs, flame retardants); plant protection products and residues; pesticides, metals; powders and fibers; natural toxins; mutagenic and carcinogenic substances. Research on toxicity mechanisms – using advanced techniques, alternative methods, chemobiokinetic studies and the identification of biomarkers – aims at characterizing health risks in the population, in sensitive groups (e.g. children, pregnant women) and in groups that are particularly susceptible on account of genetic and/or acquired factors.