Fire Safety Month-What to do with old smoke detectors?

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It should be common practice to replace your smoke detector batteries twice a year, but when should you replace your smoke detector.  According to Consumer Reports, a new smoke detector should be installed every 10 years.  When the time comes to replace yours, how should you dispose of it?

The City of West Allis e-Cycle Program can safely recycle your old Smoke Detector and Batteries.


Do not throw your smoke detector in the trash!

Smoke detectors contain a number of elements and materials that are not suitable for landfills.  In the interest of preserving our planet, caution should be taken upon disposing of smoke detectors for the following reasons:

Some Detectors Contain Radioactive Materials

80% of all household smoke detectors in the United States contain a radioactive element, Americium-241, with a half-life of 432 years!  The amount used in most newer ionization smoke alarms is small and not harmful to humans, but could harm the environment.

Circuit Boards in Smoke Alarms Are Bad for Landfills

Nearly all smoke detectors models contain circuit boards, which are very bad for landfills. Circuit boards contain lead among other toxins that can leach into the ground and eventually our water supply.

They contain Alkaline and Lithium Batteries

Some detectors contain removable alkaline batteries, just like the ones you would use in your remote control. Furthermore, 10 year sealed battery smoke alarms are as stated, sealed—thus making battery removal impossible. Batteries, alkaline or lithium do not belong in landfills.


For more information:

US Fire Administration- Disposal of Fire/Smoke Detectors

Alert and Protected