Huge Number of Brain Tumors Reported Out of Colonia High School

Ella Connors

In 1999 Al Lupiano was diagnosed with a brain tumor known as an acoustic neuroma that goes from the brain to the inner ear. A year ago, his wife was diagnosed with the same tumor and then his sister was diagnosed with a glioblastoma, a different type of brain tumor. Earlier this year, his sister passed away from brain cancer. The fact they all were plagued with brain tumors was a little too coincidental for their liking, and they sparked a larger investigation into the issue (Today).

Since then, it has been found that over 100 former students and staff from Colonia High School in New Jersey, have developed brain tumors over the last three decades and nearly half were cancerous. There is concern that there could be an unidentified radioactive compound present on school grounds. The city of Woodbridge has set aside hundreds of thousands of dollars to test for this potential radiation (JD Supra). According to JD Supra, Mayor McCormick stated, “one hundred out of 15,000 have brain cancer—sure sounds like something we should be concerned about.” 

This could be considered a cancer cluster. “A cancer cluster is defined as a greater-than-expected number of cancer cases that occurs within a group of people in a geographic area over a period of time,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Biology students Mehdi and Alyson agree that aside from radiation, these tumors could have been a result of the food the students and staff were eating, the water they drank, or something else similar in their diets. They both believe this can not be from chance.

Biology teacher Ms. Angerson says that her “first thought is that this is most likely a cancer cluster which could be the result of radiation or another mutagen/carcinogen in the area.” She also added that the chance of being diagnosed with this type of cancer is less than 1%, and worldwide only 1.3% of people have cancer. She went on to explain that New Jersey has the most Superfund Sites in the United States, which are places polluted by hazardous waste desperately in need of a clean up. And cancer clusters have been connected to some of these places. 

Both the Environmental Protection Agency and New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection have expressed their concerns, but they will not take any further action before the results of these radiation tests come back. If tests come back negative, more tests may have to be allocated to see what the actual cause of these tumors is. Colonia High School still remains open, despite concerns being expressed by students and staff.