Victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami will soon benefit from water purification devices the size of a marking pen.
Two companies that make the purifier and the Department of Defense are sending 1,200 of the devices and instructors to Asia for the relief effort.
The miniature purifier will make only a small difference there, but it could aid many more victims of future disasters.
Frank Downs is a senior scientist at the Panama City Naval Surface Warfare Center. Downs helped develop the 3.5-ounce, shock- and freeze-proof MSR MIOX Purifier.
The device runs on a lithium camera battery and destroys common waterborne pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa as well as anthrax, bubonic plague, smallpox and other contaminants.
A few were distributed to Florida National Guard troops during hurricane recovery efforts last year.