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Congress to hold hearing on BioWatch

Sept. 8, 2012 at 4:21 PM

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- An automated version of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security BioWatch system is on hold and faces congressional scrutiny due to potential problems.

Two congressional subcommittees have scheduled a hearing Thursday on the BioWatch program, the Los Angeles Times reported. The department announced last month it has postponed proposals for Generation 3, the new automated program.

BioWatch began in 2003, with scientists analyzing air samples from 30 cities for anthrax and other pathogens. An investigation by the Times found numerous problems with the program, including 56 false alarms and the possibility that the analysis is not sensitive enough to detect an actual biological attack.

Generation 3 would use automatic sensors, but the Times said there are doubts about its effectiveness.

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