Experts Are Worried that L.A. ‘Rage Rooms’ Are Making People Sick

Rage rooms have been popping up since about 2015, and authorities in California have concerns about a potentially toxic issue

The Los Angeles County Fire Department and other California authorities are concerned about the safety of so-called “Rage Rooms,” a developing trend in which businesses offer customers an outlet to release their anger by smashing stuff in a room.

Gloves, coveralls, a helmet, and a face shield may protect the body from flying debris while people are working out their anger with a bat in hand, but CalMatters reports that these types of facilities aren’t protecting consumers from hazardous waste.

“Los Angeles County Fire has been looking into these sites and is concerned about potential hazardous waste issues,” the fire department told the non-profit news organization after it cited an unspecified L.A. rage room this past June for violating environmental regulations.

“It’s a concern to ensure that hazardous waste is not being illegally disposed of and also that the individuals in these so-called rage rooms are not being exposed to hazardous constituents,” the department’s statement continued.

The danger comes from smashing electronic waste, like old televisions, flat screen monitors and laptops. These items are recycled at facilities equipped to separate the recyclable material from the hazardous elements, but when simply bashed to pieces, a fine dust of toxic metals may fill the room.

Rita Hypnarowski, a senior environmental scientist and e-waste team leader in the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, told CalMatters that the issue has been on her radar since 2018. “You’re getting exposed to flying airborne particles and you don’t even know you’re being exposed,” she said.

In 2019, her department cited a Sacramento rage room for mishandling e-waste.

Tom Daley, owner of one of the country’s oldest rage rooms, Break Bar, which opened in Manhattan in 2015, told the Associated Press it’s “purely designed for fun,” while Yashica Budde, a licensed therapist and the owner of Westlake Village rage room Smash RX, told AP she considers it a mental health treatment for anyone 12 years of age and older.

“Destruction Therapy is a coping technique in which people break and destroy various items in order release their emotions in a safe appropriate environment,” reads a Smash RX FAQ. “Our ‘Rage Rooms’ provide a secure and monitored arena for anyone experiencing the very normal feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, depression, stress, who want to release them.”

The FAQ continues, “Science has proven that, the hitting of inanimate objects causes the brain to increase the production of endorphins, which are the neurotransmitters that create feel-good thoughts in your brain.”

According to Hypnarowski, however, smashing e-waste “can seriously harm people’s health.”

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