Legislation Prompted By Recent Reports of Carbon Monoxide Poisonings
(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Ralph Caputo following reports about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning at indoor ice skating rinks was released Thursday by an Assembly committee.
The bill (A-186) would establish a carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide air quality testing and certification program for ice arenas. The program would be implemented by the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).
“Carbon monoxide poisoning can have serious long-term consequences and can even prove fatal in some cases,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “For young people and athletes who are inhaling large quantities of air, it can prove especially dangerous. The last thing we need is to be putting children at risk of developing long-term health problems when there are easy ways to help detect carbon monoxide and avoid exposure.”
Under the bill, the DHSS would be required, in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), to establish rules and regulations establishing:
· Air quality standards for carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide in ice arenas;
· Criteria for issuance of a certificate of acceptable air quality for ice arenas; and
· Criteria for the sampling of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide in ice arenas.
The DHSS, in consultation with the DEP, would be required to identify both an action level and an evacuatory standard for carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide in ice arenas.
The action level would signify an amount of contamination or exposure that is likely to cause human health problems, and would be used to determine when corrective action is required.
The evacuatory standard would signify an amount of contamination or exposure that is known to be hazardous to human health, and would be used to determine when the facility should be evacuated in order to protect the public health.
Reports have profiled the short and long-term dangers of carbon monoxide inhalation at ice skating rinks.
In one story, a 14-year-old boy ended up in the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning after competing in a hockey game. In another profile, a woman who skated from the time she was a young girl eventually ended her career with the Ice Capades after developing debilitating carbon monoxide related lung disease, neurological and memory problems.
Reuters also reported that high levels of carbon monoxide sickened more than 60 people at a youth hockey tournament in Colorado. Over the years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have also reported a number of mass carbon monoxide poisonings at indoor rinks.
“Carbon monoxide detectors are a simple way to make sure the public’s health is not at risk,” added Caputo. “If they are required in residential rental units, then by all means we should require them in facilities where equipment known to emit the fumes is used.”
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas created by the combustion of carbon-based fuels. Symptoms of CO poisoning can include headache, dizziness, weakness, fainting, vomiting and confusion. High levels of CO in the body can cause profound central nervous system effects, coma and death. Over time, CO exposure can cause neurological, heart, lung and brain damage.
Presently, three other states – Minnesota, Massachusetts and Rhode Island – have laws mandating that ice rinks monitor their air quality.
The bill was released by the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee.
Any person who knowingly, willingly, or purposefully violates any of the bill’s provisions would be liable to a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,500 per day of violation. Any person who falsifies information would be liable to a fine of not less than $1,500 nor more than $3,000 for each instance of falsification.