Author Archives: Suzi

About Suzi

No more wandering in the Hudson Valley. I have achieved my dream, it was a long time working toward it, but now I am here, living in NYC. My dream, my goal, my purpose in life.

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


Staten Island Advance, July 5th, 2018

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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.

CANCER MAPPING USED

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.

CANCER RATES ON STATEN ISLAND

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.

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Snowy Owl Makes Unexpected Visit at New York City Jail


Wall Street Journal, July 5th, 2018

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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.’ ”


Toxic Algae Found in Two Central Park Waterways


West Side Rag, June 11th, 2018

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The state Department of Environmental Conservation has found toxic algae in the Harlem Meer and the Lake in Central Park, according to lab samples taken this month.

Unlike other lakes in the state, the concentrations of algae in the two Central Park lakes are not considered to have “high toxins.”

Such “Harmful Algae Blooms” can hurt people and animals, according to the state. “People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algae scums on the surface. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. If contact does occur, rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.”

Some species of algae have been known to be particularly harmful to dogs who swim in it and then lick their fur. It’s not clear if the Central Park algae falls into those categories.

The DEC has a list of things to know about Harmful Algae Blooms.


State officials find potentially toxic algae in a Flushing park pond


QNS.com, June 15th, 2018

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With summer temperatures on the rise, Queens residents may want to think twice before diving into this Flushing pond to cool off.

State environmental investigators recently found that Bowne Pond — on the western end of Bowne Park in Flushing — contains large amounts of algae blooms with the potential to produce toxins that can harm humans and animals, as reported by Patch.

Samples of the water taken by Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials revealed that the pond contains “widespread/lakewide” contamination. More specifically, that means the entire water body or most to all of the shoreline is affected by the bloom.

The DEC website advises people, pets and livestock to avoid contact with any water that is discolored or has algae scums on its surface. Coming in contact with toxic algae can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or even breathing difficulties.

Colors of algae can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red.

While it may sound threatening, the type of contamination is not as severe as other bodies of water around the city such as Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn and Morningside Pond in Harlem. Those are identified by the DEC as already having confirmed levels of high toxins.

The DEC urges anyone who suspects they have seen algae blooms in any public body of water to report it to the agency, and those who come in contact with algae should wash it off thoroughly with clean water.

First acquired by the Parks Department in 1925, Bowne Park is named after former Mayor Walter Bowne who, ironically, is remembered for his strict policies attempting to prevent an outbreak of cholera — which spreads through contaminated water.


Tortured water: Noxious blue-green algae returns to Prospect Park Lake for fifth year in a row


Brooklyn Paper, June 15th, 2018

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The green reaper is back!

Toxic blue-green algae is blooming on Prospect Park Lake for the fifth-consecutive summer, according to state environmental sleuths, and stewards of Brooklyn’s Backyard are banning pooches from its water because the goop can be fatal to dogs and harmful to their humans.

Inspectors with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation tested the lake earlier this month, and the results confirmed its widespread contamination with blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, which blooms during warmer weather and produces two types of toxins when it does.

One toxin affects the liver, and can lead to symptoms including vomiting, seizures, dark poo, and diarrhea within 24 hours of being ingested by furballs, according to the director of a Park Slope veterinary clinic, who said the toxin, if left untreated, could cause liver failure and death within days.

The algae also produces a neurotoxin that can affect pets almost instantly, causing symptoms that include severe drooling and tearing, muscle spasms, and tremors. And in extreme cases, animals can die within an hour of ingestion, said the Slope vet, who encouraged bringing Fido for a check-up if he drinks from the lake or exhibits any symptoms.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry in those instances,” said Verg North’s Dr. Brett Levitzke. “The prognosis for true ingestion of either toxin is so poor, especially the neurotoxin.”

Humans, while less likely to lap up the lake’s wet stuff, are equally susceptible to the algae’s toxic byproducts, which can also show up in the form of a nasty skin rash — so locals who want to play it safe should avoid catch-and-release fishing and boating there to steer clear of contaminated water.

And the good news for Prospect Park–loving mutts and their masters is that the algae has yet to turn up at Dog Beach, which remains open for hot dogs looking to cool off, according to a spokeswoman for meadow conservancy the Prospect Park Alliance.

The blue-green algae is in part caused by phosphates in the city’s water supply, which feeds the lake, and Alliance leaders are working with state environmental inspectors to take weekly tests of the water, conservancy spokeswoman Lucy Gardener said.

In February 2017, the state awarded the Alliance a $390,000 grant to fund a study ahead of the installation of two natural-filtration systems meant to siphon algae-causing phosphates from city water before it enters the lake.

But Gardener could not provide an update on the study or the filtration systems’ installation, and said her Alliance colleague overseeing the work was unavailable to comment.


Toxic Algae Found in Two Central Park Waterways


West Side Rag, June 11th, 2018

FULL TEXT:

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has found toxic algae in the Harlem Meer and the Lake in Central Park, according to lab samples taken this month.

Unlike other lakes in the state, the concentrations of algae in the two Central Park lakes are not considered to have “high toxins.”

Such “Harmful Algae Blooms” can hurt people and animals, according to the state. “People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has algae scums on the surface. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. If contact does occur, rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.”

Some species of algae have been known to be particularly harmful to dogs who swim in it and then lick their fur. It’s not clear if the Central Park algae falls into those categories.

The DEC has a list of things to know about Harmful Algae Blooms.


Bow hunt will control deer population


Staten Island Advance, April 30th, 2018

FULL TEXT:

Eltingville

The rise in Staten Island’s deer population has caused great concern. It has increased the potential for injuries and death due to deer-vehicle collisions, caused vegetation destruction, increased the amount of ticks and cases of Lyme disease, as well having other implications on the environment.

Since deer migrated to Staten Island, they no longer are susceptible to natural predators, creating an environmental imbalance. When deer are not managed through hunting or their natural predators, they often succumb to starvation, which can be a long-suffering demise. This can result in deer carcasses and bodies left to decay in the woods and streets across Staten Island. Staten Island’s deer population is now at 2,100, up 9,000 percent since 2008.

Cities across the country are facing similar concerns over large deer populations in non-traditional areas where they have no natural predators. Several municipalities have tried sterilization programs, with the mission of cutting reproduction and reducing the deer population over time. New York City has incorporated a sterilization program in an effort to contain the growth in deer population.

Unfortunately, sterilization programs alone, like New York City’s, have been inadequate for significantly reducing the number of deer. According to the NYC Parks Department, Staten Island’s current sterilization plan anticipates lowering the deer population by 10 to 30 percent. Several municipalities across New York state have tried similar sterilization programs, costing millions of dollars with very little significant impact. Eventually, these municipalities have turned to lethal methods, like controlled bow hunting, within a few years to manage the increasing deer population in their areas.

Cities like Rye, New York, and Cincinnati, Ohio, are considering or have instituted a controlled bow hunting program that utilizes a lottery selection process, authorizing a limited number of experienced and trained bow hunters to participate. In Cincinnati, the program focuses in Mount Air Park, which encompasses 1,500 acres. The bow hunting program has proven to help in the effort to control the deer population. In 2016, Cincinnati’s controlled bow hunt resulted in 157 qualified hunters reducing the deer population by 139. Cincinnati’s 10-year program has resulted in a 1,354 reduction in the city’s deer population.

Some of Staten Island’s landscape may be conducive to a limited controlled bow hunting season. Fresh Kills Park, which encompasses 2,200 acres, and the Mt. Loretto Unique Area, which sits on more than 200 acres, each with high concentrations of deer, could be an ideal compromise.

Some may have concerns with potential bow-hunting in Staten Island presenting a danger. Fresh Kills Park and the Mount Loretto Unique Area can fit the criteria for safe bow hunting areas under the state guidelines. There are strict laws and state DEC officers enforce these regulations. According to the latest state statistics, in 2016 there were zero injuries from bow hunting across the entire state. A limited three-week hunting period could be communicated to the public via the news, social media and posting signs to ensure the park land remains safe for all hikers and those who love and appreciate our natural treasures.

A closed, three-week hunting period in these specific areas could provide a reasonable compromise to preserve the eco-system. In December 2017, the New York state assembly, senate and Governor Cuomo authorized cities and towns to consider euthanasia as part of their deer management plans. This would allow them to capture and kill the deer with methods aside from traditional hunting. The city and state should collaborate in developing a limited bow hunting program as part of the Deer Management Plan.

Allowing a select number of experienced and trained bow hunters to participate in a controlled bow hunt on Staten Island could help expedite the reduction in the deer population, potentially saving lives and city money. Deer hunters could also donate deer meat to feed local homeless families and individuals through the “Hunters Feed the Hungry” program.

You can read more about deer management programs in the following links: Cincinnati, OH – Controlled Bow Hunt Questions and Answers 2016 – 2017 : NYS Department of Conservation – Community Deer Management

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