The $ 2000 CFL Cleanup: Where Urban Myths Come From

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?

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