The Suffolk County Department of Health Services is often asked to become involved in the investigation of cancer cluster investigations. Typically, our role is supportive to the New York State Department of Health, which investigates suspected cancer clusters. The state health department maintains a Cancer Registry. Access to the cancer registry data, especially in regard to small area analyses, is restricted due to confidentiality concerns.
In concert with the state health department activities, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services provides support at the local level such as conducting site visits, meeting with concerned citizens, reviewing historical health department records and information pertaining to each situation or by conducting related environmental sampling. In addition to these support activities the Suffolk County Department of Health Services also perform extensive monitoring of ground water and drinking water for a wide range of contaminants, including over 100 pesticides and their breakdown products.
Recently, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services performed such tasks following an investigation by the state health department of a cancer cluster identified among former students at a local high school.
The Long Island Breast Cancer Study, being conducted by the National Cancer Institute, is another good example of our supportive role. We transported and analyzed approximately 700 drinking water samples from residences of breast cancer cases and controls. These samples were analyzed for an array of possible contaminants, including inorganics, volatile organic chemicals, heavy metals and chlorinated pesticides.
Recently, the Suffolk County Legislature passed a resolution creating a task force to investigate the occurrence of a rare childhood cancer known as rhabdomyosarcoma. Specifically, this resolution created the Suffolk County Rhabdomyosarcoma Task Force for the purpose of developing a comprehensive survey, intended to better identify the incidence of rhabdomyosarcoma in Suffolk County. The Task Force has just recently formed and had our first meeting in March.
Local citizens initially raised concern about rhabdomyosarcoma incidence. The state Health Department has examined the rhabdomyosarcoma incidence data to see if any potential cancer cluster was evident. To date, the state has not been able to observe any geographical clustering, but are re-evaluating the state database along with supplemental data provided by the concerned citizens.
I hope that the information that I have provided is helpful to this committee in its deliberations of cancer clusters and the possible role of the environment. I would be glad to address any questions you may have.