What is a Smoke Detector?
A smoke detector is an electronic device that senses the presence of smoke. These devices differ based on their ability to detect the intensity of fire or spread of smoke. These devices are usually encased in disk-shaped plastic enclosures. For any generic consumer smoke detector, the size goes 150 millimeters (6 in) in diameter and 25 millimeters (1 in) in thickness, but shape and size vary.
Is a Smoke Detector an Ecological Hazard?
Given their resourcefulness, the use of smoke detectors in residential, work, and recreational buildings make it important to ask how these devices should be recycled or wasted. Smoke detectors are not intactly recyclable, meaning they need to be broken into bits and pieces for them to be recycled.
Breaking stuff down means that there is a chance the harmful products in these devices leak out. Especially the radioactive material present in smoke detectors. Although in their complete state, these devices pose no threat to humans, it is only when they are improperly thrown out that they can become an ecological biohazard.
Types of Smoke Detectors
If smoke detectors are radioactive, can’t we just make ones which are not? Turns out, we have successfully made the non-radioactive one, but they are not widely in use yet. Most household detectors contain an exceedingly small amount of Americium-241, a radioactive isotope, which makes the device detect smoke particles. These types of detectors are called ionization smoke detectors.
Photoelectric smoke detectors do not have any radioactive materials. Photoelectric models have an LED (light emitting diodes) (light emitting diodes) light that sends a steady ray of light across an inner chamber. When smoke enters the device, it scatters the light toward a sensor in the unit. The sensor detects the light and triggers the alarm.
Both kinds of detectors can detect either slow-burning “smoldering” fires or fast-burning “flaming” fires, but each technology has its strengths. Ionization-based alarms tend to detect small black soot particles from flaming fires more quickly because they are produced in greater numbers and take away more current from between the plates. Photoelectric detectors tend to be more sensitive to particles that are larger in size and white or light-colored, and thus more reflective, like those emitted by smoldering fires.
Why Do You Need to Recycle Smoke Detectors?
You need to recycle a smoke detector for the radioactive material inside. The Americium-241 inside the smoke detector is protected by a layer of metal and cannot harm you if contained. However, if it leaks out, it could seriously damage everyone in contact with it. Please bear in mind that certain components cannot be recycled due to flame-resistant additives in the plastic.
However, you can recycle the battery inside the smoke detector. Since small components of the detector can be completely recycled, people try to do it on their own, thinking they know better. It is never advised to do so – it is better to look for a reputable mail-in program where professionals handle electronic waste. Even most household hazardous waste centers are not set up to handle smoke detectors, so people need to find the optimum recyclers.
Why Choose Recycle Technologies Smoke Detectors Recycling Kits?
At Recycle Technologies, our main aim is to preserve and safeguard the environment for a sustainable future. We do this by safeguarding hazardous material from ending up in landfills and incinerators where they are no use to anyone.
Recycle Technologies’ 5-gallon Smoke Detector Recycling Kit includes plastic pail, heavy-duty recyclable cardboard box (pail must be return-shipped in the cardboard box), heavy plastic liner, zip tie to seal liner for shipping, and pre-paid return shipping label.
For consumers and light commercial recycling needs, we have a 6″ x 6″ x 6″ Recycling Kit Box. This box is specifically designed to safely handle the Americium-241 (other radioactive materials are not accepted). This program is only for smoke detectors containing 5 microcuries or less of Americium-241.
Our 28-gallon Smoke Detector Recycling Kit is another one of consumer or light commercial recycling needs. The major difference is that it includes a 28-gallon poly accumulation container, along with a similar heavy plastic liner, zip tie to seal liner for shipping, and pre-paid return shipping label like that for the 5-gallon one.