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California students get about twice the amount of curricular hours on H.I.V./AIDS prevention as experts consider sufficient, according to an informal poll conducted by the California School Boards Association.

The poll, to which more than a third of the state's districts responded, found that 95 percent of those districts offered some instruction relating to AIDS and the virus that causes it. Students receive a total of about 40 hours of instruction on the subject between kindergarten and grade 12, the poll found. Twenty hours are considered sufficient.

California districts nonetheless face many barriers to creating such programs, including parent and community objections, a lack of time and place in the curriculum, and a lack of appropriate instructional materials.

Several brands of crayons on the market contain dangerously high levels of lead, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.

The commission has issued a recall of several brands of crayons made in China, some of which contain enough lead to be a health risk to children who chew on or eat the crayons.

Commission scientists are continuing to test imported crayons, including those from Indonesia, Taiwan, and Europe, to insure that they are safe for children to use.

Although crayons whose labels say "Conforms to ASTM D-4236'' supposedly have been tested by a certified toxicologist, the commission said, one of the recalled brands falsely used the label. The C.P.S.C. advises that parents and teachers call the recalled-products hot line, (800) 638-2772, to get the latest list of products to avoid, including a listing of recalled brands of crayons.

More than a quarter of tubal insertions done to combat inner-ear inflammations among children are unnecessary, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes.

Tympanostomy tubes are used to alleviate a common inner-ear ailment known as otitis media, which can, in severe cases, cause hearing loss.

Doctors performed roughly 670,000 tube insertions in 1988, making the procedure the most common childhood operation, according to the study, which was conducted by a national program reviewing medical-services utilization.

But 27 percent of the operations conducted in 49 states and the District of Columbia between Jan. 1, 1990, and July 31, 1991, were "inappropriate,'' the study says.--SARA SKLAROFF

Vol. 13, Issue 33

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