The Environmental Protection Agency is failing to notify other countries about dangerous pesticides shipped to them, even though the substances may be used on fruits and vegetables eaten by Americans, the General Accounting Office said.

The EPA received repeated warning about such notification more than a decade ago.Western Europe is the biggest market for pesticides, taking 25 percent of world sales, followed by the Far East, which accounts for 23 percent, according to the report. The fastest growing markets are India, Brazil, China and Spain.

The report quoted the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs as saying about half the pesticides that Latin American countries import are bought from the United States. Latin America furnishes a substantial amount of the fruits and vegetables Americans eat in the winter.

"Not having notices issued could result in continued use in foreign countries of a pesticide that may damage the health of its citizens or damage its environment," the report said.

"Additionally, the crops treated with the pesticide could be imported into the United States to the detriment of the health of U.S. citizens and the environment."

The GAO said U.S. manufacturers had canceled the registration of four pesticides after the agency started or threatened to start special reviews because of dangerous effects on humans or laboratory animals. It found that notices were sent to foreign governments on only one of these pesticides, called cyhexatin, saying it could cause birth defects if pregnant women worked in fields where it was used.

No notices were sent on the three others: EPN, captafol and carbon tetrachloride, according to the office, which quoted EPA officials as saying that they only send notices when they feel there is a health concern.