"The intentional release of pathogenic viruses, bacteria, or other biological threat agents in high-traffic areas such as a busy airport or train station could have catastrophic consequences, causing widespread fear and panic in addition to quickly spreading deadly diseases. Biothreat agents can be dispersed in air, water, or food and are extremely difficult to detect and identify. They are relatively easy and inexpensive to obtain or produce, which makes them an appealing weapon for terrorists. In the event of a biological attack or other contamination incident, laboratory technicians would need to quickly process hundreds to thousands of samples to identify the type of pathogen released and determine the extent of contamination. Clearance sampling conducted before a decontaminated site can be returned to normal operations must be sensitive enough to detect very low levels of live spores in an environment that also contains a high number of biothreat agent spores killed in the cleanup activities. Decision makers need sampling results returned quickly to minimize the time that contaminated areas are closed to the public."
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory: https://www.llnl.gov/
Science & Technology Review (September 2010)