About the Data


The Environmental Facilities and Cancer Map is designed to present information about cancer cases in the State as well as the location of environmental facilities. It shows:

  • The number of people diagnosed with cancer in small geographic areas of New York State (census block groups).
  • Highlighted areas where cancer is higher or lower than expected
  • The locations of certain environmental facilities.
Data Sources
  • Cancer data: 2011-2015 (5 years)
  • Population data: 2011-2015 (Average population over the five years)
  • Environmental Facility data:
    • 2017 (Petroleum Bulk Storage, Hazardous Waste Management Facilities, Active Solid Waste Sites, Brownfields Cleanup Program, State Superfund Program, Vehicle Dismantling Facilities, Chemical Bulk Storage, Environmental Restoration Program, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action Sites, Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP), Major Oil Storage Facilities (MOSF))
    • 2015 (Large Quantity Hazardous Waste Generators)
    • 2012 (Water Discharge Sites, Air Emission Sources, Commercial Pesticide Sellers)
Geographic Coverage Census block groups
Last Update 2018
Data Methodology View Technical Notes

Data Displays

Five-Year Cancer Counts

  • Five-year cancer counts are shown for block groups. A block group is an area containing about 1,000 to 2,000 people as defined by the US Census.
  • Tabular data show:
    • The numbers of cases of 23 types of cancer that were diagnosed between 2011 and 2015 in people living in the selected area.
    • The total number of cancers, including the 23 different types and others, diagnosed in the area.
    • The average population of the area between 2011-2015.
  • To calculate a crude rate using the Five-Year Cancer Count data, multiply the population by five and then divide the cancer cases by this number. Multiplying the population by five is necessary because the cancer cases cover five years while the population is an average over five years. The crude rate will allow you to compare rates between areas with different-size populations. However, the crude rate does not take into account differences in the age structures (for example, percent of the population that is elderly) of the different areas, which can be important since cancer is mostly a disease of older people.

Cancer Highlighted Areas

  • There are two types of highlighted areas, those where cancer incidence was higher than expected and those where cancer incidence was lower than expected. For areas of higher than expected incidence (pink circles), there had to be 50 percent more observed cases than expected cases. For areas of lower than expected incidence (blue circles), there had to be 50 percent more expected cases than observed cases. In addition, the ratio of observed to expected cases had to be such that it was unlikely to be a chance occurrence.
  • Data show:
    • Cases observed. The number of newly diagnosed cancer cases among people living in the highlighted area.
    • Cases expected. The number of cases calculated based on cancer rates for all of New York State applied to the number of people of different ages living in the highlighted area.
    • Population. The average population of the highlighted area during the five-year period 2011-2015. In cases of gender-specific cancers (for example, female breast cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer), population is shown for the appropriate gender.

Environmental Facilities

Tabular data describing each environmental facility include: an identification code, facility name, address information, county, NYSDEC region and a link to more information about the facility or site (when available). These data may vary from those available from NYSDEC programs. For the latest data please contact NYSDEC using information in the metadata provided at the Help icon link next to each layer label.

Technical Notes

Cancer Data

  • The source of the cancer data is the New York State Cancer Registry, which collects, processes and reports information about every New Yorker diagnosed with most cancers. Data in this application are provisional as of December 2017. They may differ from other data reported by the Cancer Registry at other times because Registry data are continuously updated.
  • Cancer count data include all reportable cancers diagnosed among New York State residents between 2011 and 2015. Cancer data are reported for a five-year time period because the number of cases in single years can vary considerably, particularly in counties outside metropolitan areas.
  • Cancer counts are reported by cancer site, or location of the body where the tumor originated. When a person is diagnosed with more than one primary tumor, all are counted.
  • Cancer counts are based on people's addresses at the time of their cancer diagnoses. It is possible that people with cancer lived elsewhere before their diagnoses.
  • To the extent possible, the current application uses the same small areas that were used in the prior release of the Environmental Facilities and Cancer Mapping application. To protect privacy, block groups were merged where there were fewer than 6 male or 6 female cancer cases in total in the prior release (or 12 cancer cases in total when all cases were of a single gender, as with certain block groups comprising prisons). This resulted in a reduction from 15,194 to 13,823 block groups. Block groups that did not meet the above criteria with respect to the 2011-2015 cancer data were also merged, further reducing the total to 13,513. Merged block groups are designated with names that include the letters "DOH", to indicate they were created by the Department of Health.
  • Expected cases represent the number expected if the likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer at a given age and gender were uniform throughout the state. That is, the expected counts have been age and sex-adjusted.
  • Public access to cancer data is intended solely to allow the public convenient and immediate access to public information. While all attempts are made to provide accurate, current, and reliable information, the Department of Health recognizes the possibility of human and/or mechanical error and that information captured at a point in time often becomes obsolete. Therefore, the Department of Health, its employees, officer and agents make no representation, warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, completeness, currency, or suitability of the information provided here.


  • For block-group level data, the reference population was the 2010 census population. County level estimates for non-census years (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) were used to develop estimated block group populations for these years, using a method known as iterative proportional fitting. This allowed population growth or reduction between 2010 and 2015 to be accounted for. The method assumes that the population growth or reduction in each block group matches that of the county.

Highlighted areas

  • The spatial scan statistic was used to determine the location of highlighted areas from among locations where there was a 50% or greater difference between observed and expected cases. Details of the method used are given in Boscoe FP, McLaughlin CC, Schymura MJ, Kielb CL, "Visualization of the Spatial Scan Statistic Using Nested Circles," Health and Place 2003, 9(3): 273-277. 50% was chosen to reflect a balance between statistical relevance and epidemiological relevance. The former tends to emphasize small elevations or deficits in large populations, while the latter emphasizes large elevations or deficits in small populations. In addition, the maximum size of the highlighted areas was restricted to 2% of the statewide population, or about 400,000 people. This was done to prevent the highlighting of large parts of the state for sites such as liver where differences between New York City rates and upstate rates exceed 50%.
  • While the areas are shown as circles on the map, they are not literally circles - each block group either belongs to a highlighted area or does not belong to a highlighted area. Thus, the true shape of a highlighted area is irregular, though roughly circular. Circles were used on the map for simplicity and to reduce bandwidth.

Environmental Facilities Data

  • Environmental Facilities data show the locations of 15 types of environmental facilities within census block areas of New York State. These data are provided by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Descriptions of the various datasets are found here.
  • The environmental facility information only shows the locations of facilities. It does not contain any information about whether chemicals have been or are being released from these facilities or the likelihood that people may have been exposed to any chemicals that could cause cancer.
  • Environmental facilities lacking coordinate location or street address information have not been included in the map.

Data Availability

Cancer data will be available on the Health Data NY website. This dataset includes observed and expected counts by block group for each of the cancer sites. It also identifies which block groups are included in highlighted areas for each cancer site. A separate file indicates which block groups were merged for reasons of confidentiality protection.

Data Contact