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A biological aerosol detector is provided. The biological aerosol detector uses a semiconductor optical source with an ultraviolet emission band to excite biological molecules in an aerosol sample. Filtering optics are configured to attenuate radiation from a secondary emission band of the optical source to prevent false signals due to scattering of secondary emission band radiation from non-biological molecules. An intake/exhaust manifold that includes an intake pipe that fits within a concentric exhaust pipe is also provided. The intake/exhaust manifold planarizes the flow of the sampled aerosol to maximize the time of irradiation. An electrostatic sampling grid is also provided to selectively draw biological molecules having a net charge into the optical chamber.