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Minnesota Bill Would Improve Indoor Air Quality at Ice Arenas

Apr 13, 2010(This story was edited on 4/14/10 to add information on MN SF3175 and New Hampshires SB453)

NCEL members Minnesota State Representative Rick Hansen and State Senator Ellen Anderson are working to enact legislation that would put their state at the forefront in reducing illness and other negative health effects caused by exhaust emissions from ice resurfacing equipment used at the state’s indoor skating rinks. Rep. Hansen introduced HF3512 after peewee hockey players and spectators were taken to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning last year. The air pollution comes from gas or propane powered vehicles used to resurface the ice.

The companion bill in the Senate, SF3175 , is sponsored by Senator Anderson. SF 3175 would require catalytic converters installed on ice resurfacers and edgers and would prohibit equipment powered by internal combustion engine other than ice resurfacing or edging equipment for two hours before skaters or spectators are permitted to enter the ice arena. Starting in 2014 if indoor ice arenas significantly and repeatedly exceed the required air quality standards then the arenas must move to electrical powered ice resurfacing and edging equipment or put in a continuous air monitor. The Department of Health will be required to publish the air monitoring results and violations on their website.

Hansen’s bill would amend existing law, first enacted in 1977, to require pollution controls on ice grooming equipment, warning signs about harmful emissions, and require stricter air quality monitoring. The bill will require a ventilation system to be put in place in ice arenas to maintain healthy levels of carbon monoxide in the arenas at all times. Older ice resurfacers that run on gas or propane would need to be retrofitted by 2011 with catalytic converters. By 2015, the bill would require ice rinks to switch to all electric ice groomers, or use air quality monitoring devices. And, operators of indoor arenas would have to be certified by the state.

According to a 2009 in-depth ESPN report on the issue, carbon monoxide levels were nearly 10 times lower in states with air quality regulations for indoor ice arenas than in states that do not have regulations.

According to a related article from the Star Tribune, the only other states that regulate indoor air quality at ice arenas are Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The New Hamsphire Senate passed SB453 on March 24, 2010. The bill is currently in a House Committee. This bill requires owners or operators of ice rinks to obtain an annual emissions inspection for each ice resurfacing, ice edging, or other machine which is powered by an internal combustion engine and which is used in an indoor ice rink. The bill also requires an annual inspection of an ice arena's ventilation system.

In 2009, after hockey players became sick during a practice in Tampa Bay, Florida’s legislature considered legislation to study how the state could better regulate air quality at indoor ice rinks, but the bill did not pass. The legislation may be considered again in 2010. In June 2009, New York Assemblyman Michael Gianaris introduced AB8912 that would require the state to establish regulations ensuring safe and appropriate indoor air quality at ice rinks. The bill has not moved since introduction.

Additional Resources:

ESPN On-line video news report on the issue (April, 2009, 14 minutes
SF3175
Massachusetts Indoor Skating Arena Air Regulations
Model Massachusetts Ice Skating Rink Air Quality Record Keeping Log:
Rhode Island Air Quality in Ice Arenas Law
Manitoba, Canada Indoor Ice Arena Air Quality Guidelines for Rink Operators
Florida bill language from 2009, did not pass:
US EPA Information on Indoor Air Quality and Ice Arenas
Exposure of Nitrogen Oxide & Carbon Monoxide in Ice Arenas
Health Effects of Carbon Monoxide


Minnesota Resources:
Letter of Support from American Lung Association
Letter of Support from Florida doctor
Letter of Support from Pennsylvania Professor of Health Science

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