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Results from the University of Colorado Boulder’s Gym Indoor Air Quality Analysis

Updated January 6, 2021

In 2018, an athletic weight room at the University of Colorado Boulder was equipped with air sampling equipment by the university’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). CIRES recently released results from the experiment in a new study, published in Indoor Air, about gym indoor air quality. The Dal Ward Athletic Center at the university includes weight room facilities dedicated to student-athletes. CIRES collected data from the weight room and the supply air. With it, they measured the air quality of a gym space before, during, and after workouts.    

 “Humans are a large source of indoor emissions,” said Zachary Finewax, CIRES research scientist and lead author of the study. “And chemicals in indoor air, whether from our bodies or cleaning products, don’t just disappear, they linger and travel around spaces like gyms, reacting with other chemicals.” 

The study found that during workouts an athlete’s body produced 3-5 times more emissions than when they were resting. They also found that human emissions during a workout, coupled with the chlorine bleach-based cleaning supplies created an unknown chemical cocktail. Studies are being done to determine the new chemical and the impact it has on gym indoor air quality. 

Gyms Need Indoor Air Quality Assessments

This study is the first sophisticated gym indoor air quality test. Gyms across the country need all the help they can get. The pandemic and stay-at-home orders have had a disastrous impact on the fitness industry, including:

  • High unemployment rates
  • Gyms included as super-spreader sites
  • The rise of fitness tech alternatives
  • Increased client concerns and awareness of air quality

An IAQ specialist can help gyms assess air quality and address that musty smell in the locker room. With greater indoor air quality awareness, questions from members about ventilation, humidity control, filtration and purification will become common concerns. Gyms need to be ready to address these issues.

Savvy IAQ specialists could use this time as an opportunity to help gyms. This could be a simple low-cost test to help gyms understand what they need to do to improve air quality. It’s a win-win situation. Your IAQ sales and services increase, and gyms can provide members a better peace of mind to return.    

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