Jean Lamoureux, MSc(A) CIH

Jean Lamoureux, MSc(A) CIH

"I am really glad I have my CIH because it not only allowed me to be approached to help solve a public health issue, but more importantly, I was able to solve the problem.

About 10 years ago, the company I was working for operated an indoor ice skating / hockey rink that operated year round. On one summe evening, most of the players that had played a game of hockey felt respiratory discomfort as well as nausea and other related symptoms. Some players even coughed up some blood.

Several of the players reported to the local ER, and so public health officials were called and my company was put on the spot as to explain what had happened. No leaks were found in the refrigerant system, nor did any tests for carbon monoxide generation from the ice resurfacing machine indicate any problem there. Faced with the uncertainty as to what had occurred, public health officials were planning on shutting down the facility. Chances were that if the facility were to be shut down, it would have remained closed on a permanent basis, thereby potentially depriving an entire community of it's source of enjoyment and fun. This was especially of concern seeing that the rink was the only one locally operated that remained open a year-round basis.

As a CIH, I was called as a last ditch effort aimed at saving the facility. I was able to gather the folowing facts :

- only players who had skated and actually performed rigorous physical activity felt symptoms

- fans who sat and watched the game from the stands did not feel any symptoms

- some fans reported seeing a reddish brown haze in the upper space of the arena (near the lights)

- the ice resurfacing machine had been used for about 6 hours that afternoon (for to drastically lower the level of the ice and to train a new driver)

- exhaust ventilation to the outside had been turned off (due to there being an excess of heat and humidity outdoors)

My conclusion was that the only logical source of this problem was NO2 as it fit all the facts. Moreover, resurfacing machines usually operate for about 10 minutes (or less) eveery hour, and the engines never get hot enough such that NO2 be produced. Things were entirely different on this occasion where the device had operated for close to 6 hours straight - and in the absence of a functioning exhaust ventilation system!!

With everyone having made a full recovery, and a set of procedures for the proper operation of the ice resurfacing machine and all employees now aware of the associated dangers, public health was satisfied and the facility was allowed to remain open for all to enjoy. The facility remains open to this day.

Ultimately, in this case being a CIH paved the way to making a positive impact on so many people - children and grown-ups alike!"