Due to the complexity of the toxic items, a qualitative comparison of present and future dangers for mankind and environment by taking only the quantitative aspects into consideration can and should not be made since it may lead to wrong conclusions.
One aspect of an assessment—the threat posed by biological weapons—is especially challenging because of the unique character of these weapons. A prime distinction is the fact that exposure to minute quantities of a biological agent may go unnoticed, yet ultimately be the cause of disease and death.
Accordingly, bioterrorism poses distinctive challenges for preparedness, protection, and response. About a half-dozen letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to journalists and politicians beginning one week after the jetliner attacks.
Four letters with spores and threat messages eventually were recovered. All were postmarked Trenton, New Jersey, which meant that they had been processed at the postal distribution center in nearby Hamilton. As people became infected in September, October and November, local responses revealed gaps in preparedness for a biological attack.
For example, the first confirmation of an anthrax case was on October 4, more than two weeks after the initial letters were mailed. Retrospective assessments later indicated that by then nine people had already contracted the disease.
Their illness previously had been misidentified because of faulty diagnoses or erroneous laboratory tests. Meanwhile, scores of buildings were belatedly found to be contaminated with spores that had leaked from the letters.
At least 30, people who were deemed at risk required prophylactic antibiotics. Since the anthrax attacks, the U. As a result, two central questions have emerged after 10 years of efforts. Is the United States safer from a bioattack now than at the time of the anthrax attacks?
Has the spending been worth it? Key Questions, Discrepant Answers Opinions on these questions differ. Yet an assessment of several broad critical contentions can offer clarification.
The criticisms are largely expressed in the form of five contentions. Funding for biodefense has meant fewer dollars for other deserving areas such as public health infrastructure and basic science research. Inmicrobiologists signed a letter to Elias Zerhouni, then director of the National Institutes of Health NIHobjecting to the diversion of funds from public health research to biodefense projects.
Fiscal woes in recent years have in fact resulted in reduced resources for public health and related programs. Economic pressure threatens to shrink biodefense funding as it does funding for much else in the federal budget; however, it is not clear now, nor was it in the past, if fewer dollars for biodefense would necessarily translate into more for public health, basic research, or any other health-related programs.
The growing number of facilities for research on select agents specified pathogens and toxins has heightened chances of an accidental release. Statistics alone make this assertion unassailable. The chances of something going wrong in any enterprise, assuming no change in operational security, increase with the size of the enterprise.
As the number of research facilities increases, so does the chance of an accident. A continuing weakness is the lack of clarity about the number of high security laboratories. Inthe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC designated four levels of safety for laboratory work with biological agents.
The two highest containment facilities, BSL-3 and BSL-4, require special security measures including restricted access, negative pressure to prevent air from flowing out of the room, and protective outerwear for operators.
BSL-4 laboratories require additional safeguards such as entry through multiple air-locked rooms and positive pressure outerwear with a segregated air supply.
A BSL-4 laboratory is required for work on agents that cause lethal disease for which there is little or no treatment for example, smallpox and hemorrhagic fevers such as Ebola and Marburg.
At present, there are 15 such U. The number of these laboratories has skyrocketed sincealthough the actual figures are uncertain.Bioterrorism - and how to prevent it. Chris Tolworthy March Bioterrorism, like all other forms of crime, can be best prevented by the law. When we choose other "solutions" we just make things worse.
The following material is mainly from New Scientist magazine, in a series of articles on bioterrorism. Other Disarmament Issues CONNECT Issue No.
33 of #UNREC 's newsletter is now available online, covering the activities undertaken by @odaunrec between July and As a means of terrorism.
Biological weapons are difficult to detect, economical and easy to use, making them appeal to the terrorists.
It is important to note that most classical and modern biological weapons' pathogens can be obtained from a plant or an animal which is naturally infected. Chemical and biological warfare;.
Summary of historical attacks using chemical or biological weapons. compiled by Wm. Robert Johnston last updated 5 December The following table summarizes known historical instances of the use of chemical or biological weapons, in reverse chronological order.
Nevertheless, according to the CIA, more than 20 nations have developed chemical and biological weapons, and some of these nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Syria) are listed as supporters of terrorism by the State Department. Rapid advances in gene editing and so-called “DIY biological laboratories”which could be used by extremists, threaten to derail efforts to prevent biological weapons from being used against civilians, the world’s only international forum on the issue has heard.
Although the potential impact.