Air Quality in Indoor Ice Arenas

ELI Policy Brief


Indoor ice arenas typically use resurfacers and other combustion equipment on a regular basis. Byproducts of internal combustion include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM). Ice skaters, employees and spectators may be exposed to elevated levels of these pollutants within the ice rink if fuel-burning equipment and ventilation systems are not properly maintained and operated. Incidents involving injuries from exposure to combustion pollutants in indoor ice arenas have been documented in states around the country in recent years.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. Early symptoms of CO poisoning may mimic the flu and include headaches, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. At very high concentrations, CO exposure can cause loss of consciousness and death. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide, a reddish/brown gas, can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs and can lower resistance to respiratory infections. Particulate matter is made up of a number of components, including acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles, and inhaling particles can cause heart and lung problems. Children and those with existing respiratory or heart conditions may be particularly susceptible to the harmful effects of exposure to these indoor pollutants. See U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Indoor Air Quality and Ice Arenas.

State Laws

This policy brief describes the laws and regulations of three states — Massachusetts, Minnesota and Rhode Island — that establish indoor air quality requirements for enclosed ice rinks. Other states, such as Connecticut and Wisconsin, have published non-binding guidance documents on maintaining acceptable air quality in indoor ice arenas.

All three policies highlighted here establish air quality standards for carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. All three states require regular air measurements, though the policies vary with regard to the numerical limits established and the measurement procedures specified. Minnesota’s regulations, which were revised in 2013, are notable for also establishing air quality standards for indoor motorsports arenas, which host events that feature internal combustion vehicles such as monster trucks and motocross motorcycles.

Rhode Island


Last updated: July 2018

Copyright © Environmental Law Institute