CBS News is reporting that the anthrax used in the attack at the offices of American Media in Boca Raton was stolen from a lab in Iowa. The strain of anthrax had been manufactured in the 1950s. The spores were over forty years old and still hearty.

The challenge in weaponizing anthrax is to create spores that are small enough to be delivered in an aerosol form. Anthrax tends to clump and is adherent. It does not readily float in the air, but will drop fairly quickly to surfaces. It takes about ten thousand spores inhaled into the lungs to cause a fatal case of pulmonary anthrax. However, the spores’ clumping tendency makes it less likely that an individual will inhale that much unless the exposure occurs while the anthrax is still in the air in the victim’s immediate vicinity. Insight: The fact that this anthrax was found so near an area where the terrorists were active strongly suggests that it is connected to their presence there. However, it is also possible that this is a copycat crime that was committed after September 11. So far, only a computer keboard and another surface at American Media appear to have been contaminated.

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