Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors

How to dispose of smoke and carbon monoxide detectorsSmoke detectors are an important and required safety feature in buildings and homes of all types and sizes. However, once these devices have reached the end of their useful life, improper disposal of smoke detectors could pose a threat to health and our environment.

A majority of smoke detectors used today (approximately 80%) contain a small amount of radioactive material (Americium 241). When mounted to a wall or ceiling, these smoke detectors are safe to use; the plastic casing surrounding the detector is sufficient to block this small amount of radiation. However, if a smoke detector containing Americium 241 is broken open in a landfill, the radioactive material inside can pose a threat to our health and the environment.

How to Dispose of Smoke Detectors 
Smoke detectors that contain radioactive material must be labeled accordingly. Companies that manufacture detectors accept expired units. Before disposing of an expired detector, remove any batteries. Alkaline batteries may be thrown in your trash, while lithium batteries may be brought to the Village Residential Recycling Center during Hazardous Waste Collection (the first Saturday of the month). Smoke detectors are not accepted at the Residential Recycling Center or Kenosha County Household Hazardous Waste Program.

Check the manufacturer’s user manual or perform an online search for the detector’s manufacturer to determine their mailing, delivery, or return instructions. Please be aware that the US Postal Service has strict requirements regarding the mailing of hazardous materials. Read details here.

How to Dispose of Carbon Monoxide Detectors
While carbon monoxide detectors do not contain radioactive material, they do contain circuit boards and platinum, both of which are worth recycling. Please recycle carbon monoxide detectors at the Residential Recycling Center.

To learn more about solid waste disposal options in the Village here, call Public Works at 262.925.6700, or email [email protected].
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