Perhaps the principal characteristic of biological agents that could make their use attractive to terrorists is their extreme toxicity, even compared to other weapons of mass destruction.
This factor has been expressed in a number of different ways: The potency of the pathogens on a weight basis exceeds that of the most toxic chemicals; between a few and a few thousand viable organisms is all that is required to produce infection in many cases.
Since pathogens can be prepared in concentrations of the order of 10 microorganisms per gram, infectious doses range downward from 0.1 microgram per targetindividual.
(1972: VIII-54) As the wide range (and sometimes inconsistency) of the above estimates suggests, much remains unknown or uncertain about the precise effects of biological agents.
It is clearly highly misleading to extrapolate directly from individual lethal doses of a substance to estimating casualties from mass attacks, given the need for effective delivery of the agent (about which more will be said later).
Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that, in terms of sheer lethality, biological agentsin theoryappear to offer a "bigger bang for a buck." In particular, most authors rate them as far more effective than chemical weapons in this respect; some would even extend the comparison to nuclear weapons.
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