Radiation testing at Colonia High School amid brain cancer cluster
NEW JERSEY - A New Jersey man has uncovered a medical mystery apparently linking more than 100 people diagnosed with rare cancers to the high school they all attended or worked.
In 1999, Al Lupiano was diagnosed with a "very rare" and abnormally large brain tumor for someone his age called Acoustic Neuroma (AN).
He graduated from Colonia High School in 1989. He wasn't the only one in his family that had a similar issue.
"When my wife and my sister were diagnosed the very same day, with a brain tumor in August of 2021, it took me a few days but that's when I knew something was wrong," Lupiano said.
Lupiano's wife was diagnosed with an abnormally large AN tumor, and his sister was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). His sister died in February at 44. His wife is still undergoing treatment.
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An environmental scientist, Lupiano determined the common link between the three was that all attended the same high school. He reached out to others on Facebook to see if there were other cases.
He says that more than 100 people responded with similar cancer cases.
Town officials were notified.
Woodbridge Mayor John McCormack and the town council ordered tests be conducted at the school, which was constructed in 1967.
"If there is something there, the sooner you know, the better because you can react quick and take any steps you have to take right away," McCormack said."
On April 9, canisters to take air samples were placed in the building. Canisters were also put on the grounds outside of the school to check for any excessive levels of radiation.
McCormack says that town documents state that the school was built on virgin forest land.
"It hits me. It's my generation," McCormack says. "I mean, I graduated in 1976."
Testing is expected to end this week and then it will be about a month before the results come back.
"Finding something isn't the end of the road. Finding something is now the beginning," Lupiano said. "And if we don't find something we still have to continue to look to make sure there's not a hazzard present and, if there is, we have to remove it."