This presentation describes the use of an FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared)-based spectrometer designed to continuously monitor ambient air for the presence of chemical warfare agents (CWAs) and toxic industrial chemicals (TICs). The necessity of a reliable system capable of quickly and accurately detecting very low levels of CWAs and TICs while simultaneously retaining a negligible false alarm rate will be explored. Technological advancements in FTIR sensing have reduced noise while increasing selectivity and speed of detection. These novel analyzer design characteristics are discussed in detail and descriptions are provided which show how optical throughput, gas cell form factor, and detector response are optimized. The hardware and algorithms described here will explain why this FTIR system is very effective for the simultaneous detection and speciation of a wide variety of toxic compounds at ppb concentrations. Analytical test data will be reviewed demonstrating the system's sensitivity to and selectivity for specific CWAs and TICs; this will include recent data acquired as part of the DHS ARFCAM (Autonomous Rapid Facility Chemical Agent Monitor) project. These results include analyses of the data from live agent testing for the determination of CWA detection limits, immunity to interferences, detection times, residual noise analysis and false alarm rates. Sensing systems such as this are critical for effective chemical hazard identification which is directly relevant to the CBRNE community.© (2010) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.