contagion.jpgSan Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu introduced legislation Tuesday that would regulate the use of devices meant to detect bioterrorism agents in the city.

The devices, marketed to companies and building owners, claim to detect biological weapons such as anthrax, but are untested and could cause costly false alarms, Chiu said.

The response to a false alarm about bioterrorism could cost the city about $500,000 in the first 24 hours of the response, according to Chiu’s office.

He said the ordinance was “relevant to a post 9/11 reality” and was inspired by similar legislation in New York City.

The ordinance would require anyone who possesses one of the detectors to register it with the city, abide by various requirements, and pay a licensing fee.

The owner of the device would also need to have a facility response plan in place in the event of an incident, and would have to pay penalties if there were false alarms.

Chiu acknowledged people buy the devices in order to stay safe, but said “we need to make sure we don’t create unnecessary public alarm when there is no need.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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