Poor indoor air quality and epidemic carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)) poisonings due to exhaust emissions from ice resurfacers have been continuously reported from enclosed ice arenas for over 30 years. The health risks in users of Finnish ice arenas were analysed in three ways: (1) evaluation of four cases of epidemic CO poisonings, (2) modelling the association between NO(2) exposure and respiratory symptoms among junior ice hockey players, and (3) estimation of the number of arena users at risk of breathing poor quality air due to non-compliance of ice arenas with recommended abatement measures. The common causes for the CO poisonings involving over 300 subjects were large emissions from propane-fuelled ice resurfacer, small arena volume, negligible ventilation, and very recent opening of the arena. Rhinitis (prevalence 18.3%) and cough (13.7%) during or after training or game were significantly associated with the estimated personal NO(2) exposure of young hockey players (n=793) to average concentrations ranging from 21 to 1176 microg/m(3) in their home arena. During a 6-year follow-up of an intensive information campaign the portion of electric resurfacers increased from 9% to 27%, and that of emission control technology on propane-fuelled resurfacers increased from 13% to 84%. The portion of inadequately ventilated arenas decreased from 34% to 25%. However, 48% of the investigated Finnish ice arenas (n=125) did not fully comply with the non-regulatory recommendations. Consequently, 20000 daily users of ice arenas were estimated to remain in 2001 at risk of breathing poor quality air. Modern small and inadequately ventilated ice arenas pose their users (mostly children and young adults) at risk of breathing poor quality air and suffering from acute adverse health effects. Governmental regulations are needed worldwide to ensure safe sports in enclosed ice arenas.