Smoke Detectors

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.





c/o Disposal

28C Leigh Fisher Blvd

El Paso, TX 79906


First Alert/BRK

800-323-9005 x2

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.


GE Security/ESL


12345 SW Levetan Dr

Tualatin, OR 97062

Accepts GE Security/ESL brands only.




Returned Goods

Honeywell, Inc.

Dock 4-MN10-3860

1985 Douglas Dr N

Golden Valley, MN 55422

Accepts Honeywell brand only.



800-880-6788 x1


1016 Corporate Park Dr

Mebane, NC 27302

Accepts Kidde brand only.




Call Sears for take-back information.


System Sensors

800-736-7672 x1

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.


USI Electric/Universal

800-390-4321 x1

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.


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