RESEARCH: Perceptions of Risk Associated with Use of Farm Chemicals: Implications for Conservation Initiatives

Environ Manage. 1998 Jul;22(4):575-87. doi: 10.1007/s002679900129.


/ Data were collected from 245 farmers within the Darby Creek hydrologic unit in central Ohio to assess perceptions of risk associated with use of farm chemicals. Farmers were asked to evaluate the level of risk associated with use of agricultural chemicals for water quality, food safety, food quality, health of applicator, health of farm animals, wildlife, beneficial plants, beneficial insects, and human health. Study findings revealed that respondents perceived use of farm chemicals posed little or no threat to any of the assessed items. A composite index was formulated from the responses to the nine items and was titled Perceived Risk. Variance in the Perceived Risk index was regressed against social learning variables. The findings revealed that approximately 32% of the variance was explained by the predictive variables included in the model. It was concluded that the theoretical perspective was somewhat useful for understanding perceptions held about agricultural chemical use at the farm level. The findings are discussed in the context of future conservation and educational-information programs within the study region.KEY WORDS: Risk perception; Risk assessment; Groundwater; Pesticide contamination; Food safety; Environmental quality