New York State Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance Project (HSEES)

The New York State Department of Health collects information on non-petroleum hazardous substances spills/releases as part of a federal program called Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES). New York is one of 14 states1 compiling data about these emergency events and their public health consequences. The goal of the HSEES program is to prevent morbidity (injury) and mortality (death) through interventions identified by analyzing the HSEES data. To reach this goal, HSEES staff collects the following information on each qualifying emergency event:

  • name and quantity of the hazardous substance(s) released,
  • cause and circumstances of the release,
  • number of victims and their classification (employees, responders, students or the general public),
  • number and types of injuries,
  • medical outcome, and
  • any decontamination procedures or evacuation activities.

This information is regularly analyzed to identify both unique problems and patterns that contribute to spills/releases. The HSEES data are used to identify intervention opportunities consistent with the HSEES goal, such as emergency response planning, additional worker training or improved equipment maintenance.

HSEES staff collects spill/release data from numerous sources, primarily from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Spill Hotline and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Reports are also obtained from the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center (NRC), the U.S. Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Incident Reporting System (HMIRS), wireless responder alerting services and the media. To gather specific information about each incident, HSEES staff contact the people directly involved in the response or knowledgeable about the event such as responders, company representatives or medical personnel. As HSEES staff learn of an emergency event, they help to ensure an informed public health response by alerting local public health officials and others who need to be aware of what is happening.

HSEES data are a valuable repository of information about hazardous substance events in New York State. This information includes details of hazardous substance releases that can be analyzed at local, county and state levels. HSEES data have been used to inform law enforcement and public health officials about the hazards of clandestine drug laboratories, to raise awareness in the responder community about exposure to hazardous substances and the resulting injuries, and to develop educational materials about mercury for public and private primary and secondary schools. HSEES data also benefit preparedness activities in areas such as planning for future responses to events by using information gained from actual data and training personnel by using case studies.

If you are interested to know more about hazardous substances releases in New York State, call HSEES staff at (518) 402-7810 or 800-458-1158.

1 Other states participating in the program are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.