There are two common types of smoke detector: ionization and photoelectric.* Photoelectric smoke detectors contain no radioactive components and can be disposed of in regular household waste without condition. Ionization smoke detectors operate by using a very minute amount of the radioactive isotope americium-241 (Am-241) to detect particles in the air.** While the Nuclear Regulatory Commission permits the disposal of these smoke detectors in regular household waste, there are take-back programs offered by manufacturers. Please see the listings below for more information on the various take-back programs.
American Sensors/Dicon Global
Call to receive a number and return information.
Accepts American Sensors/Dicon Global brands only.
28C Leigh Fisher Blvd
El Paso, TX 79906
Customer Service Department
3920 Enterprise Ct
Aurora, IL 60504
Accepts up to four (4) devices of the First Alert/BRK brand at a time. Call ahead for mailing instructions.
12345 SW Levetan Dr
Tualatin, OR 97062
Accepts GE Security/ESL brands only.
1985 Douglas Dr N
Golden Valley, MN 55422
Accepts Honeywell brand only.
1016 Corporate Park Dr
Mebane, NC 27302
Accepts Kidde brand only.
Call Sears for take-back information.
Call to receive a reference number and return information.
Accepts System Sensor brand only. Asking for payment of $3.00 per unit for recycling costs.
Attn: Disposal Department
7A Gwynns Mill Ct
Owings Mills, MD 21117
Return only detectors that say "ionization" on the back. Enclose a note stating that the detector is being returned for recycling. Accepts USI Electric/Universal brands only.
*By law, smoke detectors with Am-241 are required to have warning labels on them. This label is usually located on the back of the unit, on the mounting surface. The label will either be a printed warning or have the universal radiation symbol. If there is evidence that a label has been damaged or removed from the back of a unit, treat it as though it were an ionization smoke detector.
**Please note that the amount of Am-241 is very small (one gram can be used to produce over three million smoke detectors) and that the radiation emitted is much lower than the background radiation you are exposed to every day. The risk posed by fire is much greater than the risk posed by the smoke detector. In order to provide further protection, however, it is recommended that you do not disassemble an ionization smoke detector.