Here is my own brief 2008 story about a CFL bulb that broke in my house, and the hell that ensued. -
A a few months ago, one of my cats, "Tigger", knocked over a small table lamp containing a CFL bulb, which subsequently smashed.
I quickly evacuated the house, except for poor Tigger who had broken the toxic bulb.
We made sure that the house was sealed- all doors and windows closed - and I then dialed 9-1-1.
Within an hour or so ( I was amazed at the quick response!), a group of professionally trained "Hazardous Materials" (HazMat) specialists had been dispatched from Health Canada, and arrived on my property in a large white step-van.
Yes, it even had a yellow flashing light! Maybe two- I don't remember. Seems exciting, huh?
The house was quickly cordoned off with those yellow ribbons that you see on TV all the time.
Men in exotic Hazmat suits with special breathing devices began to file into the house and professionally seal all the windows and doors. We were warned that the house would be "off-limits" while it was disinfected of the extremely poisonous Mercury. We greatfully spent two nights at a friend's house half a mile down the road.
The Hazmat team set upon clearing the house of any residual Mercury. A day or two later, they finally said that the house was safe to re-enter. Alas, the poor cat had been "put down" by the Health Canada team.
I told them that I would bury Tigger in the flower garden, but they refused to permit this.
I was told that the cat was now considered toxic waste, and would have to be removed to a special waste site somewhere in Ungava. I was heartbroken, but did not question this.
By now, you are probably suspecting that there seems to be something terribly amiss in this story. Well!
I'm sorry but some of the above facts must be set straight.
Yes, Tigger did indeed knock over the lamp and break the CFL bulb.
But after this incident, things actually happened somewhat differently than reported above:
I quickly.. no, slowly- procured from the cellar stairs (while swearing at the cat under my breath) a device commonly referred to as a "dustpan".
The hazardous broken glass was then swept into it with a special Hazmat tool known as a "brush". Once all the glass was thusly secured, it was dumped surreptitiously into the very small household garbage can. (hey- we recycle and compost extensively)
And any residual glass shards were then eradicated with the standard household Vacuum cleaner.
No droplets of the dreaded toxic Mercury were ever detected (read further below)
The cat, (Tigger) I might add, watched silently from across the room, perhaps realizing he had committed a faux-pas (or is that a Fax-paws?.) And!
So far, I am happy to report that we are all still alive and seemingly healthy. Including the miscreant Tigger.
BUT DOES IT END HERE? NO!
A couple of days later, I happened to invite a few friends over for some lobster and beer.
At some point during the dinner, I cracked a tooth filling on a lobster shell, and after cursing and drawing the small piece of amalgam out of my mouth and placing it on the table, I foolishly remarked to my guests that this small tooth filling had more Mercury in it than twenty or thirty broken CFL bulbs.
Well! General mayhem ensued! Most of the guests quickly stood up, then backed away from the table. Some bolted outside, where they gasped for "fresh" air. And someone called a Hazmat team.
Next thing I know, men in exotic HazMat suits quickly secured the area and ordered everyone out. The house was quickly cordoned off with those yellow ribbons, and...
Oh, wait! Did I tell you all this before?