High levels of airborne ultrafine and fine particulate matter in indoor ice arenas

Inhal Toxicol. 2003 Mar;15(3):237-50. doi: 10.1080/08958370304502.


The high prevalence of airway dysfunction among ice arena athletes may be related to rink air exposure; in particular, high concentrations of ultrafine and fine particulate matter (0.02-1.0 micro m diameter, PM(1)) from ice resurfacing machines may enhance airway inflammation and hyperreactivity. The purpose of this study was to identify levels of PM(1) emitted from ice resurfacing machines used in indoor ice arenas, and to compare [PM(1)] pre- and post-resurfacing to each other and to outdoor [PM(1)]. Multiple one Hz measurements were recorded on 28 different days as 15-s mean of PM(1).cm(-3) for 2 min at 1-1.5 m "above ice" in 10 rinks pre- and post-resurfacing, with measured airborne PM(1) outside each rink to be used individual rink references. Rink PM(1).cm(-3) was approximately 30 times greater than PM(1).cm(-3) outside the respective rinks (p <.05). Rink values were 104.2 +/- 59.3 x 10(3) PM(1).cm(-3) during prime usage, compared to outdoor values of 3.8 +/- 2.5 x 10(3) PM(1).cm(-3). Ice resurfacing increased PM(1).cm(-3) 4-fold (p <.05). No difference in PM(1) emissions between gasoline and propane powered resurfacing machines was identified. The rate of PM(1) dissipation after resurfacing was highly variable between rinks and probably dependent upon rink ventilation and resurfacing machine engine efficiency. Gas-powered edging increased PM(1).cm(-3) 18-fold and 158-fold versus pre-edging rink and outdoor values, respectively. We conclude that the primary source of airborne indoor rink PM(1) is internal combustion ice-resurfacing machines and that this poor air quality may be causal to the unique and high prevalence of airway dysfunction in ice arena athletes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis*
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / etiology
  • Environmental Illness / etiology
  • Particle Size*
  • Skating*
  • Vehicle Emissions / analysis


  • Air Pollutants
  • Vehicle Emissions