Man wants regular air-quality tests at P.E.I. rinks after his children fall ill

A P.E.I. man is looking for answers after his children fell ill after a hockey game at the Tyne Valley Community Sports Centre on Sunday.

Darryl Ashby says his nine-year-old son, Jackson, is feeling better now, but had a headache and trouble breathing after his team, the North River Flames, played a game in the arena.

"It was our away game, we went up there not thinking anything was going to happen," Ashby said.

When his son complained of a sore stomach, Ashby said he originally attributed it to "playing a hard game," but his wife and daughter were in the stands with him watching.

His 10-year-old daughter came down with the same symptoms as his son and had a headache for two days, he said.

We just want to make sure this doesn't happen again. — Adam MacLennan, rink manager

Ashby said he didn't hear of others who were at the arena being sick until Monday morning.

"We're a little upset because it's a public place and you don't expect this kind of stuff to happen. We pay enormous amounts of money when we register our kids thinking everything's going to be safe going into these buildings," he said.

Ashby said he couldn't get an appointment with his family doctor right away. He said his wife called the Island's nurse hotline at 811 and was told to monitor their son and a report would be sent to their family doctor.

Many have fallen ill

Ashby and his family are not alone. Health officials said 47 people went to Island emergency rooms with respiratory issues between Sunday and Monday night. But no one has had to stay in hospital. 

Health officials also said anyone still experiencing symptoms should seek advice from their health-care provider.

Brian Higgins/CBC

Staff with the North River Flames atom team confirmed in an email to CBC that all but one of the 14 players have said they've been affected.

"One father spent half the day in bed yesterday. Others are feeling mostly better. Others still have sore throat. Sore belly, cough, headache, pain with deep breath. Those seem to be the consistent complaints," the email said.

Adam MacLennan, the manager of the rink, said contractors have been checking the oil-fuelled furnace and heating system, believing that a blockage could have caused a rise in nitrogen dioxide.

He said parts have been replaced on the heating system and an air-quality test Wednesday morning showed no problems.

"That is obviously a good sign," he said.

I think there should be some kind of procedures put in place. — Darryl Ashby

He said for now the rink remains closed, but he was hopeful the arena could be open for the weekend.

"We are doing all the preventative, precautionary measures we can. You know, it's just a bad thing to happen. We just want to make sure this doesn't happen again," MacLennan said.

Future air-quality tests?

Two oil-fuelled hot water heaters, used to provide water to the ice resurfacing machine, were removed as a precaution. MacLennan said he doesn't think the hot water heaters contributed to the air-quality problem, but they will be replaced with electric water heaters.

Ashby said he wants air quality in rinks to be monitored more closely from now on.

"There is a few hockey rinks that are getting up there in age. I think there should be some kind of procedures put in place — monthly, weekly, keep an eye on this stuff," he said.

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