The Virginia Department of Health is dedicated to protecting public health, including preparing for and responding to weapons of mass destruction. Weapons of mass destruction can include biological, chemical or radiological threats as defined below.
A biological agent is a bacterium, virus or other biological substance that can cause disease. Bioterrorism involves the use of any of these biological agents with the intent to cause harm.
A chemical agent is a toxic gas, liquid or solid that can harm people or the environment. Chemical Terrorism involves the use of any of these chemical agents with the intent to cause harm.
Radiological and Nuclear Threats
Radiological and nuclear threats include nuclear weapons and dirty bombs. Both spread radioactive materials, but a nuclear explosion would have a far reaching impact while a dirty bomb would affect a more targeted area. Intentional release of radioactive material is another form of terrorism.