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Incident at Colorado ice rink caused by carbon monoxide leak

A town in Colorado was suddenly shoved into the public eye earlier this week. National concern was sparked after a local event center temporarily closed down due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Cities across the nation began wondering whether the same problem existed at their ice rinks.

Over a hundred people, hockey fans and youth hockey players, were reported to have suffered some sort of poisoning. Thus far it is believed that a Zamboni machine and a faulty ventilation system are the cause of the dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. There have not been any reports of injured workers who suffered serious poisoning.

According to the local fire department, the level of carbon monoxide in the air was much too high. Hockey enthusiasts and employees alike were breathing in a dangerous amount of the gas; some of the victims were reported to have a dangerous level of carbon monoxide in their blood.

There were two failures in the building that were not related, but when they occurred together became a deadly combination. First, the machine used to resurface the ice rink was emitting a lot of carbon monoxide, more than what it should emit. Secondly, the ventilation system in the building had stopped, halting the flow of fresh air.

At this point, most of the individuals who had been poisoned were released from the hospital. But what about employees of the event center? Prior to this incident, the building was not required to have carbon monoxide detectors in the building. What if workers had been breathing in carbon monoxide before this incident? If that was the case, workers could have been slowly poisoned while on the job.

While commercial buildings are not required by law in Colorado to have carbon monoxide detectors, this incident raises the question of whether there are other types of health hazards that are currently unknown but can cause severe injuries or illnesses.

Source: Gunnison Country Times online, "Hockey fans, players poisoned in carbon monoxide incident at Jorgensen Event Center," 10 February 2011

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