The Center Ice of DuPage ice rink facility had to be evacuated Saturday evening. Several people attending a youth hockey tournament that brought teams in from around the country fell ill with headaches, nausea, and vomiting. When rescue crews came to the facility, a carbon monoxide detector showed very high levels of carbon monoxide, prompting an evacuation of the entire facility. As of this writing, the source of the carbon monoxide emissions had not been determined. Many of the people who were made ill had to be hospitalized with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.Early press reports described the injuries sustained by persons attending the tournament as being “not serious” but carbon monoxide can have significant long-term health effects. Ongoing follow-up care and therapy will be required for those made most seriously sick by carbon monoxide poisoning.While the source of the carbon monoxide emissions was not being reported in the early press accounts, carbon monoxide is primarily produced by the burning of fossil fuels. In a situation such as this, there are a number of likely culprits:
- Exhaust from team buses being sucked in through the vents to the building. This has been a common scenario in a number of other carbon monoxide poisoning accidents. Buses left idling near the building are a potential source;
- Defective heating equipment in the building. It was not cold Saturday evening, but the cool snap the week before may have led the building operators to turn the heat on. If the heat equipment was not working properly, it may have taken a long period of time for harmful concentrations of carbon monoxide to build up in a large, open facility like that ice rink;
- Defective icing equipment. A facility like the ice rink requires powerful equipment to cool the building so that ice can be made inside the facility. A defect in the equipment or how it is vented could be a possible cause of the carbon monoxide poisoning.