The myth started with an article by Steve Milloy published on Fox News and picked up by papers like Canada's National Post, in which he quotes a story in Maines Ellsworth American. Evidently Brandy Bridges (pictured left) broke a bulb in her kid's bedroom and was worried about mercury in the shag rug. She called the Department of Environmental Protection, who sent out a specialist who recommended professional cleaning, which was priced at two grand. Milloy neglects to mention that the story goes on to say that this was a mistake, and that the DEP has published recommendations of how to clean it up; he just cherry picks a line from it and we have a new urban myth. We had written more about this but PZ Myers does a much better deconstruction at ::Pharyngula
Compact fluorescents are controversial, and their mercury content is a concern. We have had a number of commenters note that it costs thousands to clean up a room if you drop a bulb; one demanded "real scientific responses only, please" which counted me out, but Helen Suh Macintosh answered it here yesterday. But where did this $ 2000 cleanup idea come from?