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School officials in Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, and other districts began to return apples to their lunch menus last week, after confirming that their fruit did not contain a potentially harmful chemical used by some apple growers.

And New York City school officials said they expected to return apples to the lunch program by early April.

Dozens of districts had stopped serving apples and apple products after an environmental group's report linked the chemical, Alar, with an increased risk of cancer in children. But on March 16, three federal agencies called on school districts to contin6ue using the fruit, saying that Alar posed no "imminent hazard" to children. (See Education Week, March 22, 1989.)

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration moved to ease restrictions placed on importation of Chilean fruit following the discovery of small amounts of cyanide in two grapes.

In a related development, officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week confirmed that an unreleased staff study recommends barring the use of aldicarb--a common pesticide--on potatoes and imported bananas because it could endanger infants and children.

Exposure to the chemical, which is found on a small percentage of potatoes and bananas in markets, has been linked with flu-like symptoms and gastrointestinal problems, the study said.

The number of confirmed measles cases is running at more than twice last year's rate, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics.

Nearly 1,100 cases have been confirmed so far this year, cdc officials said last week.

Officials noted that the disease has been found most often among two distinct groups: students from junior-high-school through college age, who may have been immunized with a less-effective vaccine used before 1980, and inner-city, preschool-age children who may not have been vaccinated.

According to the cdc, many additional cases of the disease have been reported but not confirmed. Some 1,200 cases have been reported in Houston since the fall, and more than 900 in Los Angeles over the past year and a half.

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