Electronic Journal of Biotechnology ISSN: 0717-3458
  © 1999 by Universidad Católica de Valparaíso -- Chile
Vol. 2 No. 3, Issue of December 15, 1999


Table 2. Biological and chemical warfare characteristics


  • Natural odourless occurrence

  • Obtained synthetically with characteristic odour

  • Invisible particles normally dispersed through aerosol spray

  • Normally volatile in nature and dispersed either through mists or aerosol sprays

  • Entry through inhalation or ingestion

  • Entry through inhalation or dermal absorption

  • Pre-exposure treatment confers or enhances immunity through use of toxoids, vaccines, antibacterial protective clothing, biosensors and smoke-detectors

  • Pre-exposure treatment relies on use of gas masks, antichemical protective clothing and use of chemosensors for toxic substances

  • Post-exposure treatment relies on antibiotics or in combination with vaccines

  • Post-exposure treatment relies on use of antidotes and neutralising agents

  • Effects of biological agents and toxins are diverse resulting in incapacitation or death occurring after contraction of disease resulting from infection by a specific biological agent e.g. anthrax caused by Bacillus anthracis and plague caused by Yersinia pestis

  • Effects of chemical agents are either instantaneous or delayed for a few hours, with the onset of symptoms such as allergy, respiratory discomfort, intense irritation of mucous membranes, malfunctioning of physiological processes, resulting in dose-dependent death or incapacitation

  • Can be weaponized into artillery rounds, cluster bombs, and missile warheads

  • Long history of use as poison bombs, in artillery rounds, and in missile warheads

  • Production methods are simple and cheap relying on non-sophisticated technology and easily obtainable knowledge in biology, genetics engineering, medicine and agriculture

  • Simple and complex production methods needing appropriate corresponding equipment and technology for simple and sophisticated chemical synthesis, purification and development of lethal doses

  • Not easily detected in export control and searches by routine detection systems, e.g. X-rays

  • Detection facilitated through odour escape, and packaging in inert metallic containers showing up on X-ray screens

Supported by UNESCO / MIRCEN network