Air quality of Eastern Iowa ice rinks safe - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Air quality of Eastern Iowa ice rinks safe

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- An investigative report on Thursday morning's Today Show on NBC looked into the air quality of ice arenas around the country.

The story featured a Minnesota hockey player poisoned by Carbon Monoxide from the rink's ice resurfacer.

A KWWL viewer emailed us asking us to check if eastern Iowa's ice arenas have adequate ventilation systems.

Only three states regulate air quality inside of ice arenas and Iowa is not one of them.   However, ice arenas in eastern Iowa are taking it upon themselves to help their athletes breath easier.

Mallory and Brennan Mefford spend a dozen hours a week perfecting their moves at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.

The pairs' mother, Therese says, "Put on some skates and try to do what they do! Its hard work!"

Mom watches from outside the rink, but keeps a close eye on what this pair breathes in.  Therese says, "If their air quality isn't good, they can't perform as they need to. Especially with how much exertion and how hard they're working.  You want to make sure they're breathing clean air."

Although reports show pollutants from ice resurfacing machines poisoning athletes around the country, parents at the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena can breathe a sigh of relief.  

Jeff Dralle, general manager of the Cedar Rapids Ice arena says, "We actually run propane on both of ours, as well as our ice edger which runs cleaner than gasoline but not quite as clean as a natural gas."

Carbon monoxide detectors around the rink constantly monitor the levels in the rink, but have never indicated any danger.

Dralle says, "We take great pride in making sure they're running at their best.  We don't want any pollutants, or as minimal as possible in the air."

The arena will consider replacing their ice resurfacers with electric powered machines in the next year.

If you're a concerned parent or if you frequent an ice rink, ask the manager what kind of resurfacer they use.  Is it electric or does it run off fuel?  If so, ask about their carbon monoxide detectors.

We checked with the four major rinks in Eastern Iowa to see how they resurface their ice.

The Cedar Rapids Ice Arena uses two resurfacers fueled by propane, but they're looking to replace them in the next year or so.

Young Arena in Waterloo has one electric and one propane fueled resurfacer. The propane machine undergoes inspections twice a year and sensors in the building monitor the air quality.

Mystique Ice Center in Dubuque runs an LP zamboni, but a computer system monitors air quality 24/7 and can automatically open air dampers to clear the air.

The ice rink at the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville uses an electric resurfacer with zero emissions.

Online reporter:  Molly Nichols

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