94 People from One New Jersey High School Developed Brain Tumors — and No One Knows Why

An unusual cluster of brain tumor cases among former students and staff of Colonia High School in Woodbridge, N.J., has left officials and alumni baffled and concerned

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After nearly 100 people who attended the same New Jersey high school developed rare brain tumors, an alumnus and cancer survivor is demanding answers.

Environmental scientist Al Lupiano is among 94 former students and staff from Colonia High School in Woodbridge, New Jersey, who have been diagnosed with rare brain tumors. He received his diagnosis in the late '90s when he was 27 years old, but last year his wife and sister — also alumni of the school — developed brain tumors as well, as reported by CBS New York.

"Fast forward to August of last year," Lupiano told CBS. My sister received the news she had a primary brain tumor, herself. Unfortunately, it turned out to be stage 4 glioblastoma. Two hours later, we received information that my wife also had a primary brain tumor."

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Lupiano's sister died in February at age 44. He started to wonder why he, his wife and his sister all had these rare tumors, so he created a Facebook group to see if any other Colonia High School alumni had developed tumors or related conditions.

"I started doing some research and the three became five, the five became seven, the seven became 15," Lupiano said of the alarming numbers. In total, he collected the names of 94 former students and staff who have developed brain tumors, according to the New York Post.

Lupiano reported his findings to Colonia High School, which was built in 1967, and he is now working with local officials to identify the root cause.

"What I find alarming is there's truly only one environmental link to primary brain tumors and that's ionizing radiation. It's not contaminated water. It's not air. It's not something in soil," he told CBS. "It's not something done to us due to bad habits."

Dr. Joseph Massimino, superintendent of Woodbridge Township School District, said officials are awaiting details on next steps from environmental agencies, while Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac has contacted the state Department of Health, Department of Environmental Protection and the Federal Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, the Mayor's Office of Communications for the Township of Woodbridge confirmed to PEOPLE Friday.

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"We have requested that the agencies move quickly to conduct any necessary research and verification of data so we can efficiently coordinate and facilitate any actions that will assist in the evaluation of the information and implementation of any environmental impact studies," McCormac and Massimino said in a joint statement about health concerns potentially connected to Colonia High School.

The town also said in its statement that a radiological and environmental remediation company has been contracted to begin collecting data at the school. The testing started on April 9.

"Please know that the health and safety of our school community, and the Colonia community at-large, is paramount and we take the information shared very seriously," the statement continued. "We will maintain contact with any/all agencies now involved in reviewing the data and investigating the issues of concern in order to keep our public informed of any findings."

News of the alarming diagnoses has recently gone viral in a TikTok video by Dr. Joe Whittington, a board-certified doctor in California.

In the video, which has been viewed over three million times, Whittington speculated that the alumni have developed glioblastoma multiforme, a fast-growing and aggressive brain tumor that invades the nearby brain tissue, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

As for Lupiano, he is committed to finding the root cause of what has happened at the school. "I will not rest until I have answers. I will uncover the truth," Lupiano told NJ.com last week.

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