How can I reuse or recycle … old smoke alarms?

Smoke alarmHad an email from Dave England asking: What do you do with smoke alarms that have low-level radiation sources in them?

He went on to explain that he’d heard that they should be replaced every ten years and his smoke alarms are now at least ten years old so he wants to know what he should do with them.

Ours are pretty new so we’ve not had this issue yet – but has anyone else come up against it?

According to Wikipedia, we’re looking at “a tiny mass of radioactive americium-241″ in smoke detectors that use ionization and while Americium is widely used, like other similar elements (Actinides), it can have an impact on the environment – but there are few guidelines for disposing of old smoke alarms.

So, does anyone know if (and how) can they be safely recycled? Or are there are any safe reuses?

(Photo by cancsajn)

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12 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle … old smoke alarms?”


  1. Call your local authority.

  2. kelly says:

    funny you should ask, because I just came across this problem myself. i did a websearch and found that first alert has an address to which you can mail theirs (that’s what mine was). another company that I can’t recall does the same sort of thing. you just have to make sure to mail it ground so that it doesn’t end up on a plane. cost me about $4 I think.

  3. steve doe says:

    u r all a bunch of idiots

  4. lyn says:

    I just found this site and think its great that people come up with so many great ideas to help reuse and recycle. We all need to help look after the world. I have lots of old smoke detectors sitting around and new ones that were installed by an electrician that do not have a silence button on them- not a good idea.

  5. Gulia says:

    The lid can be used for storage, cutting out cookies, as a soap holder.

    Glue to it padding or foam covered with fabric, stick needles into this cushion.

  6. Percy Bertrude says:

    Tescos Recycle Them,
    You Can Bring Them To Your Local Store

  7. Dave Decker says:

    Make yer own americium-241 powered nuclear power plant?
    Jest kiddin’….
    There probably something that it would be useful for tho’…..

  8. Detectors have a limited life span, usually specified at ten years. The vast majority of smoke detectors are made by First Alert Corporation. Send old detectors to First Alert, Radioactive Waste Disposal, 780 McClure Rd, Aurora, IL 60504-2495, 1-800-323-9005. Others are made by a Canadian firm called American Sensors, dial 1-800-387-4219 for information.



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