Updates from the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions

New York’s First Cancer Mapping Website Opened to the Public
May 10, 2010

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) Chairman of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Conservation have jointly announced the launch of New York State’s first cancer mapping website.

This website portal, resulting initiative led by Assemblyman Brodsky, was created by the New York State Department of Health in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Conservation and will make available to the public an interactive map showing counts of specific types of cancer as well as certain types of environmental facilities. This new application provides visual evidence of this, as well as additional information to help users better understand the causes of cancer.

The new site represents the first time that information about cancer will be available to the public at such small geographic levels and in an interactive format. The data, drawn from the New York State Cancer Registry, does not jeopardize the confidentiality of individuals as the map will show only combined information for small geographic areas.

Since cancer risk depends on many things including lifestyle (smoking, diet, sun exposure, etc.) and family history, the public will be cautioned at the event not to draw conclusions about a potential relationship between the cancer counts and the environmental facilities. The website includes a “Frequently Asked Questions” section to answer questions about the information available from the map and to caution against misinterpretation of the data.

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester) stated, “I congratulate the Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation for the first in the nation data, as has been repeated by everybody. It is important to use this data carefully to begin scientific research, but for years the government had these findings but didn’t share them with the citizens of New York. Those days are over and we can begin to direct our research efforts to track down the correlations between toxins in the environment and cancer. That process will take months if not years but we begin it today after a ten year struggle to get this information into the public domain.”

Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis stated, “These maps will provide the public with new tools to easily identify and locate facilities which may have an environmental impact in their communities. I applaud Assemblyman Brodsky for championing this effort to make this data transparent and readily available to the public.”

State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines M.D stated, “New Yorkers can use the new, interactive map to find the number of cancer cases in a neighborhood, and learn if an environmental facility is located nearby. It is a user-friendly source of information for anyone interested in community health."

Dr. Daniel Igor Branovan, Director of the Thyroid Cancer Center at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary and President of Project Chernobyl stated, “The Cancer Mapping Project, created due to the efforts of Assemblyman Brodsky, represents a new, and exciting step toward empowering the people on New York State by allowing them for the first time to access detailed data on cancer trends in their own towns, their own neighborhoods. This information, when properly examined and analyzed, should open our eyes to new risk factors and environmental pollutants that contribute to significant increases of many cancers among our population. This project should serve as a model for effective cooperation between public officials and cancer scientists around the country.”