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MBTA plans to conduct bio-terror test in Boston

MBTA officials are planning on using small amounts of dead bacteria will be used - a few ounces, such as the amount in a sugar packet - to test biosensors that were installed in December.

The testing will begin sometime this summer and reaction is decidedly mixed.

MBTA riders voiced their health concerns when hearing dead bacteria will be placed in subway tunnels this summer.

Rider Nancy Brothers, of Cambridge, Mass., is not so sure it won't impact the health of the elderly and young people with compromised immune systems.

The Department of Homeland Security and the MBTA say this is about the greater good, sensors that will be able to detect the specific type of harmful airborne agents in about 20 minutes - much faster than the current seven days - in the event of a biological terror attack in the subway system.

It's a chance to be proactive.

MBTA Police Chief Paul MacMillan says this can serve as a model for other cities.

Unlike a chemical attack which would hurt people right away, a nerve agent like saran or anthrax, the health effects of a biological attack may not be known by people for several days.

And health experts say this dead bacteria that will be used in the tests, an EPA approved biofungicide soil bacteria called Bacillus subtilis, is not harmful.

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