Monthly Archives: July 2018

What’s behind Staten Island’s high cancer rates? Public meeting kicks off study

Staten Island Advance, July 5th, 2018


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — After the Advance detailed the higher-than-average cancer rates on Staten Island, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a one-year study to determine the cause.

"Why does Staten Island have a higher rate of cancer than the other boroughs?" asked Cuomo. "We need to have those questions answered."

The study, to be conducted by the state Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Environmental Conservation, will include Staten Island and three other New York counties — Suffolk, Warren and Erie.

Before the research begins, the DOH will hold a public meeting to hear from borough health officials, oncology control groups, environmental groups and residents.

The meeting will take place Tuesday, July 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the College of Staten Island.

The DOH will use the study’s findings to enhance cancer screenings, prevention efforts and access to high-quality care in the affected communities.

"The Department of Health, working with DEC, are going to study what health factors, demographic factors, environmental factors could be at play to suggest a reason for those differences [in cancer rates]," said Cuomo.


Brad Hutton, deputy commissioner for public health at the DOH, said geographic mapping was used to identify the borough’s high cancer rates.

The mapping technology determines the amount of cancer predicted to be in a small geographic location as well as the actual occurring rates. The analysis then identifies areas that have a higher than normal percentage, Hutton explained.

Data from 2011 to 2015 was used for the mapping process.

While the borough’s high rate of thyroid cancer compared to the state as a whole will be a focus of the investigation, all cancer rates will be studied, he said.


In the most recent available cancer data from 2014, Staten Island had 2,781 reported incidences of out of 38,838 total in the five boroughs.

Staten Island accounted for 7.16 percent of all New York City cancer cases in 2014 while it has 5.5 percent of the city’s total population.

Thyroid cancer is more prevalent on Staten Island, according to the data. Between 2007 and 2011, thyroid cancer rates were 69.36 percent higher than New York City as a whole.

Breast, bladder and pancreatic cancers on Staten Island were also higher than the rest of the city with 14.97 percent for breast, 50.28 percent for bladder and 10.37 for pancreatic cancer.

Snowy Owl Makes Unexpected Visit at New York City Jail

Wall Street Journal, July 5th, 2018


Snowy owls normally spend their summers in the Arctic, but on Monday one of the white-feathered raptors was discovered in an unlikely location: a courtyard at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex.

A correction officer found the female bird after seeing it land near a laundry facility for one of the island’s jails. A New York City Correction Department spokesman said Tuesday that the bird appeared to be in distress with a drooping wing and suffering from dehydration. It was transported to the Wild Bird Fund in Manhattan for help.

“As always, safety is our top priority, even when it comes to nocturnal animals,” the spokesman, Jason Kersten, said in a statement.

The snowy owl is now beating the heat and recuperating at the bird rescue organization, which on Tuesday was celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a conservation law that protects birds across the country.

Executive Director Rita McMahon said the snowy owl—named Lorax, after the eco-friendly character in the Dr. Seuss book and film—had parasites and a small sore on her foot but was recuperating with fluids and a diet of mice.

The organization was still trying to figure out why the bird, who is around 2 to 3 years old, was still in New York City in the summer.

“This is the mystery: She should not be here at this time of year,” she said. “She’s not meant for these climates, she’s meant for the Arctic.”

Snowy owls and other birds have been known to fly around runways at LaGuardia Airport, which is close to Rikers Island. In 2013, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey worked with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to relocate snowy owls after they struck five planes taking off and landing at area airports.

A federal appeals court gave the Port Authority the right to kill snowy owls and other migratory birds since they were a threat to planes at the airports.

Birds flock to airports because it reminds them of their natural habitat, at least when compared to busy city streets, said Lauren Adams, the lead wildlife keeper at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science.

“The thinking is that the airport grounds tend to be more similar to their native tundra habitats,” she said. “It’s large open spaces. They like to hunker down on the ground and watch out for prey.”

Since 2014, the New England center has housed LaGuardia, an injured snowy owl rescued from the airport. They believe he was harmed by a blast of hot air from a jet engine and his wing was permanently damaged.

Ms. McMahon’s organization had 6,000 patients last year, half of which were pigeons. The other half includes 120 different species of birds.

In January, they rehabilitated a long-eared owl who flew into a building in Manhattan. A few days later, they released it into Central Park.

“New Yorkers really care, you would be amazed the trouble people go to try and save a little bluebird they found on the street,” Ms. McMahon said. “The most frequent thing we hear from them is, ‘Thank God you’re here.’ ”