Water Quality District - Hazardous Waste
What is the Problem?
Two types of smoke detectors exist, photoelectronic and ionizing. Both types of detectors contain electronic circuit boards, and in some cases, alkaline or lithium batteries. Also, ionizing smoke detectors contain a small amount of radioactive material. The amount of Americum 241 used in smoke detectors is so small, that detectors can be safely disposed of in your regular trash, according to numerous agencies including the Consumer Product Safety Commission, National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements and the Department of Energy.
- Test your smoke detectors once each month. Press the bottom on the detector and listen for the alarm. Use a broomstick handle to reach detectors on high ceilings.
- Change your batteries in your smoke detectors when you adjust your clocks for Daylight Savings Time in the spring, and again in the fall, when we return to Standard Time.
- Keep the smoke detector clean of dust and cobwebs. Clean regularly according to manufacturer instructions.
Dispose - Ionizing Smoke Detectors:
If you have an ionizing smoke detector it will say on the detector “contains radioactive material.” Manufacturers are currently recommending throwing them in the trash. According to the manufacturers, smoke alarms contain a very small amount of radioactive material, which is not harmful to people or the environment. You can also return them to the manufacturers for a fee.
First Alert Corporation makes most smoke detectors, call 1-800-323-9005 for disposal information.
A different company makes American Sensors detectors. For more information on disposing of this type of detector, call 1-800-387-4219.
Dispose - Photoelectronic Smoke Detectors::
- If you have a photoelectronic smoke detector, remove and recycle
the Battery, and then you may place it in your trash.
Smoke detectors are not accepted at Haz Waste Days.
The Residential Disposal Guide is provided by the Missoula Valley Water Quality District as a public service and is not an endorsement of specific businesses, services or products. Any omissions or inaccuracies are unintentional. Please contact us with corrections or additions. Call businesses or agencies to confirm hours, locations and charges for services, if any. For information on disposal of items not listed, email or call the Water Quality District at 406-258-4890, M - F, 8 am to 5 pm.
Much of the information provided is from the Washington County, MN, Dept. of Public Health and Environment website.
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