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American children consume about four times more cancer-causing pesticides than adults, and one youngster out of 3,000 may develop cancer from eating chemical residues on fruits and vegetables, an environmental group says.

In a report that drew a barrage of criticism Friday, the National Resources Defense Council said the average pre-school child "consumes fruit and vegetables at a significantly greater rate than adults," causing "a much greater exposure" to most pesticides.According to the group's calculations, one child out of 3,000 "may eventually get cancer solely as a result of their exposure," before the age of six, to eight common pesticides in fruits and vegetables.

Under present policy, the Environmental Protection Agency will not allow a pesticide to be used on food if it will result in any more than one additional case of cancer per 1 million people.

"Current federal regulation of pesticides fail to protect the preschooler. EPA has virtually ignored infant and child food consumption practices," according to a copy of the report obtained by United Press International.

The report, known as "Intolerable Risk: Pesticides in Our Children's Food," was expected to be formally released at a news conference Monday.

In its two-year study, the group found that pre-schoolers generally consume six times as much fruit as the average adult and 18 times as much apple juice.

Overall, the typical preschooler receives four times greater exposure to eight carcinogenic pesticides than adults, the report said.

One of the pesticides studied in the report is daminozide, known by the trade name Alar, which is used on apples and peanuts. The EPA recently announced it would move to ban Alar, citing new studies showing increased cancer risk.

In addition to Alar, the study examined the levels of 22 other pesticides "known to have adverse health effects" in 27 food items.