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Chapter 2 - Quantitative Research Findings and Implications (cont.)

Chart 2-13: bar graph showing the answers to the survey question 'What do you think this Icon/Picture means?' [The icon is the plastic material code icon.] (Please check the table for findings.)

Table 2-18: What Do You Think This Icon/Picture Means?(%)*
  Not Really Sure Package Recyclable Package is Recycled Material Environ-mentally Preferable Package Contains X% Recycled Material
Outdoor Pesticide 37 35 27 10 3
Household Cleaner 39 36 21 12 5
Indoor Pesticide 40 33 24 8 4
  100% Recycled Material Package Not Recyclable Package Made of Recycled Paper Package Made of Recycled Steel No Answer
Outdoor Pesticide 5 3 1 1 7
Household Cleaner 3 2 2 1 8
Indoor Pesticide 4 2 2 1 8
(Base = All Respondents)

* Please refer to Question 9 on the mail questionnaire, Appendix 2-4  

26. The symbols with descriptive language (e.g., "100% Recycled Paperboard") did provide some improvement in response accuracy. However, the correct response rate was less than 75% in every case and usually less than 60%.

27. For the HDPE question, there was no answer selection for the type of plastic from which the package was made. This confounded the interpretation of responses to that question, since respondents may have felt compelled to provide some other answer.

28. The demographic groups and other subgroups that demonstrated more capability for reading and understanding labels identified the correct responses for these symbols more frequently. These same consumers also tended to view products bearing these symbols as environmentally preferable.

Implications Regarding Recycling Claims and Symbols

A. The effectiveness of the tested symbols in communicating with the general public is not great. However, this seems to be related to the complexity of the messages carried and the lack of a compelling motivator to learn.

B. The positive correlation of comprehension with additional information in the symbol and inferred environmental benefit indicates that these are motivators for some consumers.


Findings on Product Label Signal Words (Chart 2-14, Chart 2-15, Chart 2-16)

29. Respondents understood that the terms DANGER, WARNING, and CAUTION characterize a level of risk or personal hazard. They understood the three terms to be generally relative, with DANGER describing the highest risk, WARNING a medium risk, and CAUTION a lower risk. Respondents also perceived the range of risk described by the three words to start at a medium, rather than at a low, risk level. Even CAUTION was perceived by over half of the respondents to describe a lower to moderate level of risk, not a low risk.

Chart 2-14. Bar graph showing the level of risk those surveyed associated with certain words on a label.  Mean based scale from 1 to 5 where 5 is high risk. Listed by percent of respondents who associated signal words with a level of risk of four or five. For 'Caution'; indoor insecticide 53%, household cleaner 43%, outdoor pesticide 43%. For 'Warning'; indoor insecticide 71%, household cleaner 71%, outside pesticide 69%. For 'Danger'; indoor insecticide 90%, household cleaner 87%, outdoor pesticide 90%.

Chart 2-15. Bar graph showing the level of risk those surveyed associated with certain words on a label.  Mean based scale from 1 to 5 where 5 is high risk. Listed by average associated risk (scale 1-5).  For 'Caution'; indoor insecticide 3.5, household cleaner 3.38, outdoor pesticide 3.39. For 'Warning'; indoor insecticide 3.99, household cleaner 4.02, outside pesticide 3.96. For 'Danger'; indoor insecticide 4.58, household cleaner 4.5, outdoor pesticide 4.57.

30. None of the respondents mentioned the signal word as one of the things they use to determine the possible harmful effects of a product.

Chart 2-16: bar graph showing how many of those surveyed look on product packaging for possible harmful effects while out shopping.  For outdoor pesticides; 70% yes, 30% no. For household cleaners; 51% yes, 49% no.  For indoor insecticides; 64% yes, 36% no.

31. Just under half of respondents agreed either completely or somewhat that the words CAUTION, WARNING, and DANGER on a product mean the same thing to them.

Implications Regarding Signal Words on Product Labels

A. Consumers do not understand the EPA's purpose for using signal words.

B. All three words convey some level of concern.


Findings on Respondents' Sources of Information and Education (Chart 2-17, Table 2-19)

32. Besides the packaging, respondents identified the top sources to which they referred for product information to be (see Chart 2-17):

  • Indoor insecticides -- store displays, TV ads, friends/family/co-workers, product brochures, and magazine ads;
  • Outdoor pesticides -- store displays, product brochures, friends/family/co-workers, store salespersons, and TV ads; and
  • Household cleaners -- TV ads, friends/family/co-workers, store displays, magazine ads, product brochures;

33. One in five outdoor pesticide users would contact a university or county extension service for more information about a product.

Chart 2-17: chart displaying where else (besides the packaging) the consumers surveyed get information about the products they use. (please use the table for results.)

Table 2-19: Besides Packaging Where Else Do You Get Information About the Products You Use? (%)
At Store TV Friend/
Brochure Manufacturer University Extension
Outdoor Pesticide 54.7 69.7 49.1 44.4 44.7 16.8 17.0
Household Cleaner 65.8 47.5 66.3 55.9 32.7 14.7 3.0
Indoor Pesticide 55.8 53.0 49.6 38.0 37.6 17.9 11.8
  Poison Control Environmental Group Consumer
Government Agency Library Internet/
Outdoor Pesticide 7.4 7.6 7.0 10.3 5.9 5.4
Household Cleaner 5.3 5.6 7.2 2.2 3.1 3.0
Indoor Pesticide 11.6 7.0 7.0 5.1 6.0 5.8
(Base = All Respondents)


Implications Regarding Respondents' Sources of Information and Education

A. Consumer education and information efforts should design and deliver to the sources that people use.

B. Consumers expect to get information through traditional means, rather than seeking it through companies or the government.

C. Extension agents are also a target audience for the consumer education program.

Findings on Ingredients Information (Chart 2-18, Chart 2-19, Chart 2-20, Chart 2-21, Table 2-20)

34. Approximately 90% of the telephone survey respondents were able to find and properly identify the ingredients/contents section of the label for all three product categories. The ability to find this section on the cleaners label, however, was significantly lower than on the other labels. Demographic subgroups did not show any surprising subgroup trends in their ability to find this label section.

35. After trying to find various sections during the phone survey, nearly 90% of the respondents stated that label information was positioned where they expected it to be. There were statistical differences among all categories, with satisfaction being greatest with outdoor pesticide and poorest with cleaners, although cleaners still received an 87.6% affirmative response. Of the specific requests for change, the highest was "ingredients should be on the back label." However, only 2 to 4% of all respondents voiced that request.

36. In all three product categories, of those respondents who never read the ingredients section (approximately 25% for all categories), an unusually high percentage of them did not read it because they did not understand the information in the section.

37. When asked if they look for ingredient information, approximately 40% responded affirmatively for the household cleaner and indoor insecticide product categories, but a statistically higher percentage (48%) answered "yes" in the outdoor pesticide category. The most prominent reason for reading this section was product comparison. However, approximately 15% claimed concern for health of a family member; this was higher (and the difference statistically significant) for indoor pesticide and household cleaners.

38. In all three product categories, few survey respondents specified a label change request, but the highest response (~3%) was "list all ingredients."

Chart 2-18: Chart depicting answers to the question 'When shopping, do you look for information about ingredients?' For indoor insecticides, 39% yes, 61% no.  For outdoor pesticides, 48% yes, 52% no. For household cleaners, 38% yes, 62% no.

Table 2-20: Why Do You Look for Information about Ingredients?
Indoor Insecticide
Household Cleaner
Outdoor Pesticide
I want to compare different products 66% I want to compare different products 64% I want to compare different products 57%
I or another household member want to avoid using certain chemicals because of allergies or other health related reasons 41% I or another household member want to avoid using certain chemicals because of allergies or other health related reasons 47% I'm looking for the name of a specific ingredient 30%
I'm looking for the name of a specific ingredient 38% I'm looking for the name of a specific ingredient 25% I or another household member want to avoid using certain chemicals because of allergies or other health related reasons 27%
I want to know the scientific names of the ingredients 22% I want to know the scientific names of the ingredients 16% I want to know the scientific names of the ingredients 14%
(Base = All Respondents Who Said They Look for Ingredient Information While Shopping)

Chart 2-19: this pie chart shows the preferences of respondents regarding information they would like to see on indoor insecticide labels. Full disclosure 31%, Categories with purpose 34%, current format 14%, categories only 9%, no preference 12%

Chart 2-20: this pie chart shows the preferences of respondents regarding information they would like to see on household cleaner labels. Full disclosure 25%, Categories with purpose 43%, current format 21%, categories only 6%, no preference 5%

Chart 2-21: this pie chart shows the preferences of respondents regarding information they would like to see on indoor insecticide labels. Full disclosure 25%, Categories with purpose 46%, current format 15%, categories only 8%, no preference 6%

a (For charts 2-19, 2-20, and 2-21) Please refer to Question 4c in the mail questionnaires in Appendix 2-4.

39. When given a choice of "ingredients" formats, three out of four respondents chose less than full disclosure (providing names and % of all ingredients). Options listing categories of ingredients along with a description of the purpose of the ingredients were preferred.

40. One in eight respondents used the ingredient statement to determine possible harmful effects from the ingredients listed.

41. In each of the three product categories, the phrase "other ingredients" was not fully understood.

42. "Ingredients" was ranked seventh among sections for importance, but well below the top six in all three product categories. It was also infrequently cited as a section to be found most easily.

43. The label preference for the ingredients section of the FIFRA vs. non-FIFRA cleaners label was comparable to the overall preference (58% favoring FIFRA) and the highest preference for FIFRA labeling of the individual sections tested.

Implications Regarding Ingredients Information on Product Labels

A. Characteristics of the cleaner label make it somewhat more difficult to find the contents statement on that label. Cleaners are perceived to be inherently different than pesticides.

B. Consumers are likely to be satisfied with current placement of ingredients if the format and purpose of this section are clear.

C. Consumers do not know how to use the ingredients statement as currently presented.

D. Ingredients are easier to find and read in tabular form on the front label panel.

E. While a small group of people have a strong desire for full ingredient disclosure on labels, full disclosure is not required to meet the needs most consumers cite for ingredient information.

F. Ingredients are sometimes relied upon as a surrogate for hazard information.


Findings on Respondents' Attitude Toward Product Categories

The following table captures reactions to consumer values in the attitude battery for each of the three product categories. (Please refer to question 11 in the indoor insecticide and outdoor pesticide mail questionnaires and question 12 in the household cleaner mail questionnaire in Appendix 2-4.)


  • Number on top left of each cell indicates percentage of respondents who said they "agree completely" with the statements given.
  • Number on top right of each cell indicates percentage of respondents who said they either "agree completely" or "agree somewhat" with the statements given.
  • Number in the middle center of each cell indicates the deviation from the mean. The higher the deviation, the more strongly the attitude is held.
  • [Brackets] indicate a negative deviation from the mean.

Table 2-21: Statements Regarding Respondents' Attitude Toward Product Categories
Statement Indoor Insecticide Household Cleaner Outdoor Pesticide
It is important that the packaging tell me how soon I/my children/pet can re-enter the treated area - - 65.4 93.5


Labels should say whether the product should not be used by or around pregnant women 60.2 89.5


53.5 85.2


56.2 87.2


The level of harmful effects of a product plays a role in deciding which product I purchase 49.2 82.3


35.2 77.0


44.0 81.7


It is important to know the minimum time before I can safely re-apply the product 38.2 86.0


- -
I know how to use so there is no need to read the label 1.6 12.1


1.6 12.8


0.6 4.7


Using product safely is common sense 40.2 83.2


40.8 84.3


32.9 78.3


The more product I use at a time, the more effective it will be 1.3 8.4


0.8 8.4


0.7 7.5


No need to worry about storage if CR closure is used 4.1 14.7


7.6 19.1


3.6 11.0


Unused product should be disposed down the drain 4.6 11.1


20.3 46.6


1.6 3.0


I know what to recycle so I don't need to read the label 3.1 10.9


2.5 16.7


1.3 7.0


I don't worry about chemicals in products 5.0 17.9


4.0 22.4


3.2 16.5


Would like information on long term effects on label 32.6 71.9


25.1 58.6


30.1 67.5


I always purchase the least harmful product 32.1 67.2


25.4 57.7


34.3 68.4


It is more important to me to know which ingredients might be more harmful than how effective they are 31.6 68.5


- 27.6 63.7


Peel open label has more information than flat label - - 26.6 65.5


Repeat as necessary means reapply as soon as see bugs 26.9 69.1


- -
Overall satisfaction with current label information 15.2 68.7


11.4 64.8


10.1 64.4


I feel more comfortable if all ingredients are listed 26.9 52.8


24.4 55.2


27.4 57.9


Need more information on how much or how long to apply for desired result 17.9 57.9


- -
For disposal, I rely more on experience than the label 5.3 26.4


6.6 35.4


1.9 17.7


For use, I rely more on experience than label 5.7 29.8


7.2 43.0


1.5 14.7


It is necessary to wrap in paper before disposal 17.3 35.6


5.7 16.1


19.3 47.9


Easy to find product information I need 12.7 59 .5


11.6 57.1


10 7 53.8


Information on the label is hard to understand 10 8 49.2


8.2 44.7


13.0 57.5


The government insures the product is safe to use 7.4 36.3


5.7 27.0


3.8 25.8


If I can buy in trusted store, the product must be safe to use 15.3 36.8


12.6 30.8


9.5 25.5


Fewer possible harmful effects means poorer performance 4.0 26.9


2.3 16.2


7.2 39.1


I read labels because a household member has allergy/ health problem 19.1 34.8


13.4 28.2


12.1 27.1


Disposal instructions on the label don't agree with my community 3.6 15.9


2.2 22.0


3.1 15.0


It's OK to open the peel open label in the store - - 23.7 48.4


The manufacturer assures product safety 11.6 38.4


10.2 38.3


6.3 29.8


I don't need complete listing of ingredient Information; I don't understand it anyway 12.4 41.7


8.3 37.3


8.4 34.9


Environmental or natural products often don't work well 6.0 40.0


3.5 29.6


6.0 36.2


CAUTION/ WARNING / DANGER all mean the same thing to me 16.2 48.4


15.9 49.0


13.9 44.0



Findings are as follows:

44. The highest response to attitude questions was for personal health and safety information and for instructions, especially those associated with safe use.

45. The consumer attitude toward household cleaners was different from attitudes toward the other two product categories. Significant differences were found from both indoor insecticides and outdoor pesticides in about 60% of the questions, and at least one other category in about 95% of the questions common to all categories.

46. In approximately two-thirds of the questions common to indoor insecticides and outdoor pesticides, there was a significant difference in attitudes between those two product categories.

47. The largest numerical differences in response were those for down the drain disposal, knowing what to recycle without label assistance, and greater reliance on experience than label information for either disposal or use. In each case, respondents showed much less concern and/or greater familiarity for household cleaners.

48. Respondents understood that cleaners may be disposed of down the drain but indoor insecticides and outdoor pesticides should not be.

Implications Regarding Respondents' Attitudes Toward Product Categories

A. Household cleaners are perceived to be lower risk than pesticides in both use and disposal. Consumers are much more familiar with these products and are less likely to read the label for information.

B. Indoor insecticides are more familiar to respondents than outdoor pesticides so the comfort level in using those products is greater. However, the indoor usage is associated with greater concern about health effects.

C. Consumers want specific information on use of these products so they can assure personal, family, and pet safety while getting the desired performance.

Findings on Germ Killing Potential Information

49. Respondents were asked to rank, from high to low, the germ killing potential of each of the following terms: deodorizer, cleaner, sanitizer, anti-bacterial, and disinfectant. Respondents indicated the germ killing power of each individual term, and generally ranked all the terms in the correct order. The exception, however, was that respondents saw "anti-bacterial" as having more germ killing potential than either disinfectants or sanitizers, when, in fact, "anti-bacterial" refers to any product which kills bacteria.

50. When asked on the phone survey to define "disinfection," over 80% of respondents answered correctly.

Findings on Product Category Comparisons

51. The labels of household cleaners are less completely read than those of indoor insecticides and outdoor pesticides. Fewer consumers routinely read any section of the label on cleaners except the brand name.

52. For household cleaners label readers:

  • Brand name is of higher importance, and
  • Health and safety information of lower importance.

53. For all sections of the label, the indoor insecticide product label was found to be more effective in communicating the right amount of information with a greater specificity.

  • Active and Other Ingredients -- indoor insecticide better than both household cleaner and outdoor pesticide,
  • Directions for Use -- indoor insecticide better than outdoor pesticide and much better than cleaner,
  • Storage and Disposal -- outdoor pesticide worse than either indoor insecticide or household cleaner,
  • Precautionary Statements -- both indoor insecticide and outdoor pesticide better than household cleaner, and
  • First Aid -- both indoor insecticide and household cleaners better than outdoor pesticide.

54. About twice as many consumers had purchased cleaning products as had purchased either indoor insecticides or outdoor pesticides.

55. Many more consumers disposed of unwanted household cleaning products and/or containers by rinsing out, pouring down the drain, throwing in the trash unwrapped, and recycling. The indoor insecticide and outdoor pesticide products and containers were wrapped before being placed in trash much more than household cleaners were.

Implications Regarding Product Category Comparisons

A. Household cleaners have greater familiarity and lower perceived risk for consumers. This results in more purchasing by brand name and less label reading. The most effective labels are on indoor insecticides, possibly because these labels are routinely read by consumers with a higher level of concern.

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