NBC TODAY Show Reports Significant CO Hazard at Ice Arenas


A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P | | Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Thursday, Feb 10, the NBC Today Show reported that hundreds of thousands of children and adults are subjected to carbon monoxide poisoning at indoor ice hockey and ice skating arenas due to fumes generated by fuel-powered ice resurfacing and edging machines.

NBC’s Jeff Rossen noted that to keep area surfaces from melting ice areas are tightly sealed structures with limited ventilation and heating. Because of this, the Today Show special reported that in the past year alone 250 people have been seriously poisoned by CO fumes in ice arenas. Former Ice Capades star, Linda Davis, was interviewed for this special report and stated that the cumulative exposures she has experienced since she started skating at the age of 6 have caused her to have memory lapses and lung damage so severe that she’s required to use a respirator.

Last weekend, 61 people were transported to Denver area hospitals after CO inside an enclosed ice area caused them all to receive dangerously high CO levels after a gasoline-powered ice resurfacer was used during a children’s ice hockey match.

NBC hired certified industrial hygienists to use fixed and handheld sensors after just one sweep of an older, fuel-powered ice resurfacer in a Pittston Pa., ice arena in and found dangerously high levels that triggered device alarms after just five minutes. Pennsylvania state guidelines deem the environment unsafe at 20 ppm. The level at the time of the alarms was 60 ppm, three times that level.

The industrial hygienist commissioned by the Today Show stated that adverse health effects and damage to the heart, lungs and brain can begin to occur after exposure to 100,000 particles of CO and a reading of 209,000 was present when the alarms were triggered.  Incredibly, even an hour after the gas powered machines had been shut down, readings remained at unsafe levels in the arena and forced the evacuation of the staff, scientists and news crew members until the facility could be properly ventilated.

NBC reported that there are currently no federal laws requiring clean air in ice arenas and only three states, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, regulate air quality in their arenas.  It was reported that many ice arenas continue to use fuel-powered ice resurfacers because modern, battery-powered vehicles, such as the one currently in use at the Pa. facility, cost twice as much to purchase. Officials from the EPA and four members of Congress declined to speak to Rossen when he contacted their offices.

EMS and fire agencies should meet with officials at their local enclosed ice skating and ice hockey facilities to discuss the hazards of CO, the need for interior CO detectors/alarms to alert occupants of unsafe CO levels and ensure that medical staff are properly trained to detect and assess CO poisoning on athletes, spectators and employees.

For more on this important topic, read the October 2010 JEMS supplement, The Silent Killer: CO monitoring adds a new dimension to firefighter rehab and emergency care. (Click here)

Related Links:

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, Medical Emergencies, NBC Today Show, indoor ice hockey rinks, ice skating arenas, CO detectors, CO alarms, carbon monoxide poisoning

Author Thumb

A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P

JEMS Editor-in-Chief A.J. Heightman, MPA, EMT-P, has a background as an EMS director and EMS operations director. He specializes in MCI management.


What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS


Get JEMS in Your Inbox


Fire EMS Blogs

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts


EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Community Paramedicine Expanding in Maine

Eight departments receive a grant for use towards the new program.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

New Ambulance, Fire Engine Approved for Illinois Department

Officials approve new purchases for Bloomington.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Alabama Officials Worry over Ambulance Coverage

County officials work to find best solution.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Car Crashes into Texas Ambulance

Ambulance hit while responding to a call.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

San Diego Fire-Rescue Responds to Plane Crash

Small plane crashes in shopping center parking lot.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

California Beach Lightning Strike MCI

More than a dozen injured in Venice Beach lighting strike.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >

More Product Videos >