Skip navigation
B. A New BASIS for Detecting Biological Attacks

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories have developed a system to detect airborne biological agents in the event of a terrorist attack. Livermore Project Manager Dennis Imbro describes the Biological Aerosol Sentry and Information System, or BASIS.

Imbro: The first component is a collector. These are low-cost collectors that we can deploy in buildings, outdoors, anywhere we think there could be an incident. It basically collects aerosols on a filter paper. Those papers are then brought to a laboratory where they're tested for the presence of agent using DNA diagnostics.

Narrator: Imbro says that without BASIS, it would take 5 to 7 days to discover that there's been a biological attack.

Nasstrom: Our system would provide warning within hours of an event and give the authorities the capability to jump on this very quickly, start a response operation, getting the people who are exposed into treatment.

Narrator: BASIS was first used at the Salt Lake City Olympics. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.