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Geographic boundaries in breast, lung and colorectal cancers in relation to exposure to air toxics in Long Island, New York

Geoffrey M Jacquez12 and Dunrie A Greiling12*

Author Affiliations

1 TerraSeer, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI, USA

2 BioMedware, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI USA

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International Journal of Health Geographics 2003, 2:4  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-2-4

Published: 17 February 2003



This two-part study employs several statistical techniques to evaluate the geographic distribution of breast cancer in females and colorectal and lung cancers in males and females in Nassau, Queens, and Suffolk counties, New York, USA. In this second paper, we compare patterns in standardized morbidity ratios (SMR values), calculated from New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) data, to geographic patterns in overall predicted risk (OPR) from air toxics using exposures estimated in the USEPA National Air Toxics Assessment database.


We identified significant geographic boundaries in SMR and OPR. We found little or no association between the SMR of colorectal and breast cancers and the OPR for each cancer from exposure to the air toxics. We did find boundaries in male and female lung cancer SMR and boundaries in lung cancer OPR to be closer to one another than expected.


While consistent with a causal relationship between air toxics and lung cancer incidence, the boundary analysis does not demonstrate the existence of a causal relationship. However, now that the areas of overlap between boundaries in lung cancer incidence and potential airborne exposures have been identified, we can begin to evaluate local- as well as large-scale determinants of lung cancer.