Safe disposal of smoke alarms
The radiation dose to the occupants of a house from a domestic smoke alarm is minute compared to natural background radiation from the sun in the form of cosmic radiation, as well as radiation from certain rocks and food we eat. The gamma ray dose rate from a domestic smoke alarm at a distance of one metre is less than one thousandth of that from background radiation.
Due to the small amount of material used and the secure means of its encapsulation, these smoke alarms are completely safe under all normal conditions it may encounter, including during a fire.
The NSW EPA Radiation Team recommend:
Up to 10 ionisation smoke alarms can be disposed of in household waste.
If there are more than 10 ionisation smoke alarms to be disposed of at one time they should be taken to a local Community Recycling Centre.
Consideration must be given to cumulative effect such that if 10 smoke alarms are to be disposed of daily in the same household waste, it would be preferable to dispose of them at a local Community Recycling Centre.
Community Recycling Centres (CRCs) have been established in partnership between local governments and the EPA to dispose of bulk waste materials, including ionisation smoke alarms.
For further information, the following EPA website links offer advice on smoke alarms and their appropriate disposal:
- Public advice is available on the following link: www.epa.nsw.gov.au/radiation/hholdsmokedetectors.htm
- Information surrounding CRCs is available on the following link: www.epa.nsw.gov.au/managewaste/comm-recycle-centres.htm
- A list of CRCs is available on the following link: www.epa.nsw.gov.au/managewaste/comm-recycle-loc.htm