Enclosed Sports Arenas
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) regulates air quality in Minnesota's enclosed sports arenas by requiring the responsible person to monitor for carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, which are by-products of combustion engines. By definition, an "enclosed sports arena" means any building with a roof and a majority of the sides closed in which sporting events and demonstrations occur. Ice arenas that use internal combustion engine-powered vehicles for ice maintenance, indoor go-cart tracks and arenas used for racing, competition or demonstrations of midget cars, motorcycles, and snowmobiles must comply with the MDH Enclosed Sports Arena Rule.
Minnesota was the first state to pass rules to protect individuals from exposures to exhaust emissions that can occur in ice arenas. Minnesota promulgated an ice arena rule in 1973 after carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide emitted from a resurfacing machine caused illness in spectators and hockey players. In 1977, the rule was amended to regulate all enclosed sports arenas when any type of internal combustion engine is in use.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas often formed in the process of incomplete combustion of organic substances, including fuels. It is dangerous because it interferes with normal oxygen uptake for humans and other living organisms needing oxygen to live. Arenas are required to keep concentrations of carbon monoxide at or below 30 parts per million (ppm) in the air.
Nitrogen dioxide is a highly reactive oxidant and corrosive gas. It is formed as a by-product of combustion. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, and lower resistance to respiratory infections. People with existing respiratory illness such as asthma are at increased risk for these health effects. Arenas are required to keep concentrations of nitrogen dioxide at or below 0.5 ppm in the air.
Owners and operators of enclosed sports arenas must follow Minnesota Rule, Chapter 4620, parts 4620.3900 to 4620.4900. The rule requires that facilities be certified by the Minnesota Department of Health and that air quality is maintained in these arenas as demonstrated by weekly air monitoring.
Air quality continues to be a concern in enclosed sports arenas. With continued focus on keeping the air safe in arenas, we can ensure that people using these facilities will be able to enjoy sports in a safe, indoor environment.