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Weapons “Sniffers” Introduced at SFO Soon

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For more than two years, scientists have been quietly testing electronic “sniffers” designed to spot chemical or biological weapons at San Francisco International Airport.

The testing program has been kept under wraps for security reasons. But Duane Lindner of Livermore´s Sandia National Laboratories says the system is almost finished. The lab developed a similar system for the Metro subway in the nation´s capital, which carries more than a million riders a day.

Before SFO´s new international terminal was built, scientists used theatrical smoke and computer modeling to track the flow of air currents which could carry deadly germs or chemicals to passengers. That study showed them how best to contain the toxic material while evacuating the building.

Lindner says understanding air flow is the key to placing sensors so they do the most good. Officials declined to say when the airport´s system would be operational.