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"It was [H.G. Wells'] adolescent fiction, his imaginative stories, that live forever - and yet are not acknowledged in literature classes as being great literature. So to hell with the academics!"
- Greg Bear

Oxygen Hip Flask  
  A small, portable source of pure oxygen for breathing.  

In the novel, it turns out that there is a small minority of people who are very adversely affected by higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They turn to a source of quick relief.

Whispers diminished to an occasional giggle as people bumped awkwardly. A cough. A faint, familiar hiss as someone in the crowd took oxygen from a hip flask, followed by a mumbled apology.

Remi knew he was a dozer when he lifted an inhaler and took a long hit of pure oxygen from a hip flask...

A green gas cannister at his belt showed him to be a dozer - one of those unfortunates more affected by excess carbon dioxide than other people. In most, such borderline susceptibilities caused little more than sleepiness or headaches. But sometimes a wild mania resulted...

From Earth, by David Brin.
Published by Bantam in 1990
Additional resources -

Compare to the oxygen concentrator from Duel on Syrtis (1951) by Poul Anderson.

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