The Institute for Electromagnetic Sensing of the Environment (IREA) was founded in 2001 as a result of the reorganization process of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR), from the union of Electromagnetism and Bioelectromagnetism departments of the Research Institute for Electromagnetism and Electronic Components (IRECE) in Naples and Remote Sensing department of the Research Institute for Seismic Risk (IRRS) in Milan.

In these Institutes research activities focused on remote sensing, diagnostics, and monitoring of environmental risk, with particular reference to the electromagnetic one, were well-established, with a significant recognition at national and international level.

The merging of the scientific know-how produced a new reality within CNR, which, over the years, has proved its value in the national and international research scenery. The remarkable level reached is demonstrated not only by the high scientific production, characterized by publications in the most prestigious journals in their respective sectors, but also by the evaluation of the CNR institutes, carried out by 150 Italian and foreign experts and whose process ended in 2010. The final results of this evaluation, which examined the scientific production, ability to attract external funding, infrastructure and human resources, placed IREA among the top 20 institutes of excellence in CNR.