Specific criteria regarding quality and safety are required to be met in arenas for the sake of ensuring public safety.
There have been a few reported cases of sports practitioners having had health problems after having played inside an arena. In the majority of these cases, these persons had been intoxicated by carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). These gases are produced by the ice resurfacers, whether powered by propane, gasoline or diesel fuel.
Sports practitioners are more exposed to gases than the supporters and the arena workers. Indeed, the physical efforts of the sports practitioner result in a marked increase of his/her respiratory rhythm, making him/her breathe in a greater quantity of toxic gases. If the air contains too high a concentration of gases, then the person exposed can suffer intoxication or poisoning and may feel certain discomforts or ailments.
Nitrogen dioxide intoxication can result in serious health effects, and their symptoms may appear as late as 36 hours after, for instance, having attended an arena event or practised a sporting activity inside an arena.
Arena owners must ensure air quality
In order to avoid getting intoxicated, it is essential to maintain any concentrations of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide to minimum levels.
Inside an arena, the two concentration levels below in the ambient air should never be exceeded:
- carbon monoxide = 20 ppm
- nitrogen dioxide = 0.5 ppm.
Here are some simple advices to help ensuring an adequate air quality inside arenas:
- Have the ice resurfacer serviced by a qualified mechanic every 50 hours of use.
- Provide for an adequate ventilation system capable of exhausting the contaminated air to the outside and of promoting the intake of fresh air during the resurfacing of the ice.
- Exhaust toxic gases to the outside during the warming-up period of the ice resurfacers engine.
- Open the doors of the arena during resurfacing.
- Measure the concentrations of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide in the ambient air at least on a weekly basis and at times of peak attendance, and also during special events (e.g. tournaments).
Carefulness with metallic structures
An incident, which could have had a tragic consequence, occurred once inside an arena. A four-sided metal structure used for advertising, weighing more than 250 kg and revolving under the time clock, came unhooked and fell down on the ice. Luckily, this event occurred between two hockey games, and no one got injured. This structure was installed since 1989.
The cause of the incident
An electrical motor within the time clock ensured the rotational movement of the metal structure. The two devices were linked together through a horizontal ball bearing.
Apparently, the bearing raceways had deteriorated over time. A slight swinging motion of the metal structure moreover had been observed before the event. The weight of the structure applied a force perpendicular to the bearing. Its examination revealed that one side of the raceway had failed in four different places.
What the arena owners should do
The Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) asks the arena owners to take down any revolving structure suspended by way of a ball bearing. If the owner of the arena wishes to keep the structure, an adequate fastening device shall be installed.
It is further also advised to verify any other component which is suspended to the arena’s ceiling or framing in order to prevent such deplorable incidents or accidents.