Skip to main content
Consensus Study Report


A biological warfare agent (BWA) is a microorganism, or a toxin derived from a living organism, that causes disease in humans, plants, or animals or that causes the deterioration of material. The effectiveness of a BWA is greatly reduced if the attack is detected in time for the target population to take appropriate defensive measures. Therefore, the ability to detect a BWA, in particular to detect it before the target population is exposed, will be a valuable asset to defense against biological attacks. The ideal detection system will have quick response and be able to detect a threat plume at a distance from the target population. The development of reliable biological standoff detection systems, therefore, is a key goal.

However, testing biological standoff detection systems is difficult because open-air field tests with BWAs are not permitted under international conventions and because the wide variety of environments in which detectors might be used may affect their performance. This book explores the question of how to determine whether or not a biological standoff detection system fulfills its mission reliably if we cannot conduct open-air field tests with live BWAs.

Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 2008. Test and Evaluation of Biological Standoff Detection Systems: Abbreviated Version. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Import this citation to:

Publication Info

42 pages |  8.5 x 11 | 

  • Paperback:  978-0-309-11443-1
  • Ebook:  978-0-309-13423-1

What is skim?

The Chapter Skim search tool presents what we've algorithmically identified as the most significant single chunk of text within every page in the chapter. You may select key terms to highlight them within pages of each chapter.

Copyright Information

The National Academies Press (NAP) has partnered with Copyright Clearance Center's Marketplace service to offer you a variety of options for reusing NAP content. Through Marketplace, you may request permission to reprint NAP content in another publication, course pack, secure website, or other media. Marketplace allows you to instantly obtain permission, pay related fees, and print a license directly from the NAP website. The complete terms and conditions of your reuse license can be found in the license agreement that will be made available to you during the online order process. To request permission through Marketplace you are required to create an account by filling out a simple online form. The following list describes license reuses offered by the NAP through Marketplace:

  • Republish text, tables, figures, or images in print
  • Post on a secure Intranet/Extranet website
  • Use in a PowerPoint Presentation
  • Distribute via CD-ROM
  • Photocopy

Click here to obtain permission for the above reuses. If you have questions or comments concerning the Marketplace service, please contact:

Marketplace Support
International +1.978.646.2600
US Toll Free +1.855.239.3415

To request permission to distribute a PDF, please contact our Customer Service Department at

loading iconLoading stats for Test and Evaluation of Biological Standoff Detection Systems: Abbreviated Version...