Q. What are pesticides?

A. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), defines “pesticide” as (1) any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest, (2) any substance or mixture of substances intended for use as a plant regulator, defoliant, or desiccant, and (3) any nitrogen stabilizer. The term “pest” includes, for example, weeds, insects and rodents.

So, pesticide is an umbrella term that includes herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and other “-cides.”

Etymology: -cide originates from the Latin word caedere to kill

Q. What is the difference between pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides?

A. Pre-emergent herbicides are pesticides that kill plants before they emerge from the soil, while they are still underground. Post-emergent herbicides are pesticides that kill plants that have already emerged from soil, that are visible. Unlike pre-emergents, post-emergents can be used to spot-treat; treating entire areas is not necessary.



Pre-emergent herbicides are less toxic than post-emergent herbicides.


This notion is sometimes floated to give the impression that “safer” chemicals are being used. But in truth, one category is no safer than the other. They simply have different mechanisms of action and application protocols.

 In fact, pre-emergents have some drawbacks compared to post-emergents:

  • Pre-emergents must be broadcast over the entire area where weeds are unwanted. Post-emergents, on the other hand, can be applied to more limited areas, targeting only the weeds.
  • Pre-emergents must be used at regular intervals on a pre-determined schedule. Post-emergents are used only if and when weeds appear.

Bottom Line: There is no “less-toxic winner” between pre- and post-emergent herbicides. For truly less toxic choices, see the top and middle tiers of the Pest Control Strategies Hierarchy on the Petition page. 

Q. Are Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides the problem?

A. Roundup and other glyphosate formulations are a problem, but not the only problem. When glyphosate is viewed as the only problem, it’s all too easy to “solve the problem” by replacing glyphosate with another toxic chemical that’s as bad or even worse.

"Glyphosate is the poster child for the bigger pesticide problem. If it goes away tomorrow, we are not okay."   –   Carey Gillam, Investigative Journalist and Author


Q. Why has Scottsdale BELIEVE limited its efforts to City property? I would like my homeowners association and my children’s school to stop using toxic pesticides.

A. The State of Arizona has preempted local authority to regulate pesticide use (A.R.S. §3-377). Arizona municipalities are prohibited from adopting local pesticide ordinances to regulate the use of pesticides on private property. Therefore, until the state law is changed, the City of Scottsdale cannot regulate any pesticide use but its own. The City can however lead-by-example and provide information about alternatives to conventional pest management.

Scottsdale BELIEVE hopes the “least hazardous first” approach will spread from Scottsdale municipal operations to school districts, homeowners associations, golf courses and other municipalities. First, we must achieve success with the City of Scottsdale!

Q. What are other communities doing?

A. Over 160 communities in over 20 states have restricted the use of toxic pesticides. Find out what other communities have done here.

Scottsdale BELIEVE is striving for Scottsdale to be the first community in Arizona to adopt a “least hazardous first” pest management ordinance.


Q. Do least hazardous strategies cost more?

A. The short answer is: no.


Cost Savings

There is opportunity for cost savings in management of the city’s parks and playing fields.

A 2010 report compared the cost of conventional (chemical) and natural (organic) turf management techniques. [1] The case study examined annual maintenance costs for a typical 65,000 square foot high school football field over a five-year period [see line graph].

Compared to a chemical turf management program:

  • The cost of an organic turf management program averages 15% higher in the first two years.
  • By Year 3, as soil biology improves and water requirements diminish, an organic turf management program is saving money (6% lower costs).
  • Over the first five years, an organic turf management program realizes a cost savings of about 7%.
  • Once established, an organic turf management program results in an annual cost savings of more than 25%.

With today’s improved technology, cost parity generally is achieved more quickly than it was in 2010.

[1] A Cost Comparison of Conventional (Chemical) Turf Management and Natural (Organic) Turf Management for School Athletic Fields

Water Conservation

Part of the cost savings realized by organic turf management derives from lower irrigation costs. Organically-managed turf requires less water due to deeper root growth and greater moisture retention by the organic matter in the soil. According to the 2010 report, irrigation is reduced by an estimated 33% to more than 50%.

The Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) in Irvine, CA achieved significant water conservation during its organic turf management pilot on a high-use athletic field. Under conventional management, IUSD had watered the field 6 times a week. Within the first year of transition to organic management, IUSD reduced irrigation to 2 times a week in summertime.


Demand is rising for less hazardous pest management alternatives. New products are entering the marketplace, new strategies are being developed, traditional time-honored strategies are being rediscovered, and pioneering communities are sharing what they’ve learned. As demand increases and the knowledge base grows, least hazardous strategies will become even more affordable.


The true cost of conventional (chemical) pest management extends far beyond the direct costs of products and labor; it includes, for example, the costs associated with groundwater contamination, declining pollinator populations, wildlife poisoning, and the human health consequences of pesticide residues in our food supply and other routes of pesticide exposure. Least hazardous approaches to pest management reduce and eliminate these costs.

“Since one of my areas of research entails measuring the economic costs to society from EDC [endocrine disrupting chemical] exposures, you will come across some dollar amounts. This discussion of economic burden is not in any way to diminish the health dangers. Quite the opposite, actually. Because chemical companies and manufacturers often argue about the apparent high costs of safer products, it’s critical to measure the economic costs of inaction so we can make a fair and proper evaluation of the tradeoffs. You will soon discover that doing nothing costs more to the public than investing in safer products and new policy regulations.”

Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP

Sicker, Fatter, Poorer  [see Resources]


Q. Where does the name "Scottsdale BELIEVE" come from?

A. The group takes its name from a Barry Goldwater quote:

"While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.”

We believe in the right to a clean and pollution-free environment.