Staten Island Cancer Rate Highest in NYC: 9/11 and Fresh Kills to Blame?
A newly released report by the NYS Department of Health revealed that the Staten Island cancer rates is consistently higher than any other borough in New York City.
Of the total 38,838 reported occurrences of cancer in New York City in 2014, Staten Island cancer victims accounted for 2,781 cases or 7.16 percent of all New York City cases, despite accounting for only 5.5 percent of the city’s total population, according to the most recent available cancer data from 2014.
NYS Cancer Registry
As shown in the chart above, the Staten Island cancer rates per 100,000 people were 536.2 for males and 482.4 for females in 2014, with male rates 13.48 percent higher than New York City rates as a whole (which were 472.5 per 100,000); and female rates 18.53 percent higher than New York City rates as a whole (which were 407.0 per 100,000).
In addition, rates of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, bladder cancer, and thyroid cancer are markedly higher in Staten Island than New York City rates as a whole. The most common Staten Island cancer conditions also consistently rank in the Top 15 cancers caused by 9/11 toxins exposure, according to the World Trade Center Health Program.
There are a variety of possible causes for the increased cancer rates on Staten Island, including, but not limited to, 9/11 toxins exposure and Fresh Kills landfill contamination. Staten Island played a significant role in the post-9/11 recovery and clean-up. The Fresh Kills Landfill, originally shuttered in March of 2001 after receiving 10 million tons of waste per year, was reopened after 9/11 to receive debris from Ground Zero. Sadly, Fresh Kills served as a burial site for many after 9/11. The federal government has recognized that 9/11 toxins exposure at Fresh Kills was equally cancer causing as 9/11 toxins exposure at Ground Zero. Thousands of Staten Islanders served as 9/11 responders in the rescue, recovery, and clean-up operations at Ground Zero and Fresh Kills. Additionally, thousands of Staten Islanders commuted to work or attended school in Lower Manhattan. Researchers have found that the cancer rate of individuals exposed to 9/11 toxins is approximately 20% higher than the average. Similarly, the Staten Island cancer rate is approximately 20% higher than the average.
Since the attacks on the World Trade Center, thousands of police officers, firefighters, recovery workers and survivors continue to suffer from ailments linked to inhaling toxins at Ground Zero as well as the toxic debris contained at the landfill. This includes Raymond and Robert Alexander, father and son who both tragically passed away within 8 months of one another due to exposure. For weeks on end, father and son sifted through debris at the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. Raymond Alexander died at the age of 76 after battling seven different types of cancer over 13 years, a disease his family says was linked to his rescue and recovery work after the 9/11 attacks. Less than a year later, his son Robert, 43, died of brain cancer, also related to 9/11 toxins exposure, his family said.
In the statement made by UFA President Gerard Fitzgerald on the Passing of Firefighter Robert Alexander, President Fitzgerald said “Ret. FF Alexander is the 11th firefighter who has passed away due to a 9/11 related illness this year. This loss is particularly heartbreaking because Bobby’s dad, FDNY Lt. Raymond Alexander Sr., died of 9/11 related illness last year. And this is the first time, post September 11, 2001, where the 9/11 attacks have claimed the lives of two generations in a single family… Due to the devastating 9/11 attacks on our nation, numerous New York City Firefighters have been getting sick and dying in high numbers due to cancers and other diseases caused by breathing the toxic air at the World Trade Center.”
Councilman Joseph Borelli’s office compiled a preliminary report examining health implications of the Fresh Kills Landfill that can be found here. However, as a result of the possible health threats associated with the Fresh Kills Landfill site, Councilman Borelli and Minority Leader Steven Matteo have called for the city to conduct a comprehensive, third-party study.
Anyone who was present in Lower Manhattan, south of Canal Street, or at Fresh Kills Landfill between 9/11/01 and 5/30/02 may be eligible for 9/11 victim compensation.