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A single New Jersey man has uncovered a medical mystery apparently linking 100 people diagnosed with rare cancers to a high school in Woodbridge.
In 1999, when he was just 27, Al Lupiano was diagnosed with a “very rare” and abnormally large brain tumor for someone his age called Acoustic Neuroma (AN). Last summer, Lupiano’s wife and his now deceased sister were diagnosed with rare forms of brain cancer on the same day. His wife was also diagnosed with an abnormally large AN tumor, and his sister was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which has an incident rate of 30 in 1 million people, Lupiano explained in a Facebook post that it updated since 7 March.
“Their neurologist, who has been recognized as a world leader in neurosurgery by the World Federation of Neurological Societies, has treated and been involved in tens of thousands of brain tumors over his career. He is convinced that my wife and I are possibly the first documented cases of spouses having an AN, roughly the same size and same side of the head… according to him the odds are maybe 1 in a BILLION,” Lupiano said.
“To say he was worried when he found out the three of us grew up in the same neighborhood is an understatement. Why? There is a well-documented cause of brain tumors: radiation exposure,” he said. he continued.
Lupiano eventually came to a single linking factor between him, his wife, and his sister: they each attended Colonia High School in Woodbridge in the 1990s. But Lupiano was initially unsure that high school was a link to similar but rare cases of brain cancer until he made a request on Facebook for others who frequented Colonia to contact him personally.
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On April 11, he had heard from more than 100 former Colonia High School students who had been diagnosed with rare cancers.
“[A]On Sunday 4/10 at midnight, I registered the 100th case of a person with a primary brain tumor,” Luapiano said in an update on his Facebook post. “I never considered, in my worst nightmare, to reach this milestone. That’s 100 people whose lives have changed forever. 100 families must be informed of the terrible news. 100 stories of shock and disbelief at the diagnosis. I pray we find some answers… (as of 6:00 p.m. 4/11, the list stands at 102 people).”
In a previous update, Lupiano said many of those who have contacted him about their brain cancer cases “are former CHS teachers and staff who did not live in Colonia, they were just working at school”.
Lupiano is an environmental scientist who has tested soil samples for toxins over the course of his career and suggested school grounds may be contaminated, according to NJ Spotlight News.
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Woodbridge Mayor John McCormack told the outlet that his office has started conversations with the Woodbridge Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Registry Agency. Toxic Diseases about initiating investigations into potential radiation exposure from the high school campus. McCormack said the city wants local and federal involvement in the investigation.
Lupiano also suggested a potential connection between Colonia High School and a sample plant in Middlesex, New Jersey, in his interview with NJ Spotlight.
The Middlesex Sampling Plant, which has since closed, is located on 9.6 acres, about a 30-minute drive from Colonia.
It was “an entry point for African uranium ores known as pitchblende” which were “imported for use in the country’s first atomic energy program, were analyzed at the sampled from Middlesex and then shipped to other sites for processing,” according to the U.S. military. Corps of Engineers (USACE) New York Division.
The plant received uranium, thorium, and beryllium ores between the 1940s and 1967, the same year Colonia High School was built.
The factory was then “decontaminated according to the standards in force at the time”, but “forgotten during the decontamination, there were traces of radioactive materials which had been transported off-site over the years by the wind and the rain in the yards of nearby homes,” the USACE New York Division said. on its website.
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“Furthermore, records later revealed that in 1948 radioactively contaminated materials were trucked from the factory to the Middlesex Municipal Landfill (MML), half a mile away. 1980s, contaminated residential properties were cleared and excavation soil was stockpiled on site in a purpose-built pile, known as the Vicinity Properties (VP) pile,” the USACE Division of New York website states. York.
It’s possible that the plant’s dirt was trucked to Colonia High School when it was built in 1967, NJ Spotlight reported.