Signal Words - What are they trying to tell me?

Signal Words - What are they trying to tell me?

Front and center on every BASF pesticide label is a “signal word”: CAUTION, WARNING or DANGER.  These signal words reveal information on the acute toxicity of our pesticide products. Since EPA does not always require a signal word for all products, a signal word may not necessarily appear on "every pesticide label"; however, BASF will always provide a signal word on our labels.

Think you know what each signal word means? Click on the symbol below to test your knowledge.

Caution symbol

Low (or even no) risk of harm if the pesticide product is eaten, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled, or it causes only slight eye or skin irritation.  If the results of testing shows no acute toxicity, it is optional under Federal law to put this caution statement on the label; however, BASF will put CAUTION on labels, even when it is not required.  

Warning symbol

Moderate risk of harm or moderate eye irritation, especially if the product is used improperly.  Based on testing, most pesticide products used by homeowners and consumers do not require a “Warning” signal word.  (Although some cleaning products may carry a WARNING signal word.)  While some professional-use products may have a WARNING signal word, risk of toxic exposure can be lowered through the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).  See our article on PPE for more information!

Danger symbol

Products with a DANGER signal word are highly toxic by at least one route of entry into the body and can cause severe eye damage or skin irritation. Products designed for use by homeowners and consumers will not carry a DANGER signal word, as additional PPE will be needed to mitigate the risk of harm.  You should always avoid handling or using any pesticide labeled with “DANGER” unless you are a pest management professional.


Visit the PROPER use BASF website for more information on pesticide use.


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