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Air fresheners are bad, but regulations are fun

Anyone who has ever had to teach about federal regulations is always thrilled to have good, hopefully entertaining, examples for this topic. And now that instructors have access to the Reg Map, we can actually give a step by step explanation of this once murky process (thank you, General Services Administration). As is the case with legislative process, our students’ first question is frequently "How do regulations come about?" We reassuringly tell them that executive agencies produce regulations, frequently due to statutory mandate, and that the regs are published first in the Federal Reqister, now Regulations.gov as well, before being codified in the CFR.  From the Reg Map, we learn that that there are other Initiating Events besides legislative mandate: such as recommendation from an external group.

Well, a recent news article offers a fine example of an external group directly petitioning the federal Executive Branch: environmental organizations are asking both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to more tightly regulate air fresheners. The groups don’t need to approach Congress; they can go directly to those agencies whose mission it is to keep us safe.  And since the air freshener industry, a $1.72 billion annual sales concern, is cranking out "sprays, gels and plug-in fresheners offer[ing] no public health benefits" but potentially causing "breathing difficulties, developmental problems in babies, and cancer in laboratory animals," I am glad the groups are taking action.  The groups are asking for labeling of all ingredients in air fresheners and a banning of allergens or items appearing on California’s Proposition 65 list of chemicals. Here’s a report from the National Resources Defense Council, one of the groups involved.