Home > What we do > Activities > Radiation Protection > Decomissioning and recycling ionizing smoke detectors

Decomissioning and recycling ionizing smoke detectors

In residential, utility and industrial construction the use of smoke detectors with a small radioactive source is not uncommon. This source is continuously radiating ionizing radiation in a small open space in the detector. This kind of ionizing smoke detector can't be damaged and the source can't, under any circumstance, be removed by the owner. Unused smoke detectors have to be destroyed and proccessed as radioactive waste, and can't be disposed as domestic trash. Civilians can hand in smoke detectors at a municipal waste depot.
Disposal of  commercially applied smoke detectors
B Commercially used ionizing smoke detectors can be submitted to a contractor or specialized recycling company that is permitted to handle these materials. Applus RTD has a permit according tot the Dutch Nuclear Power Act (Kernenergiewet) to recycle smoke detectors and we dispose the radioactive capsule as radioactive waste through a recognized proccessor. We will separate the materials from which the smoke detector is composed, such as Stainless Steel, plastics, electronics and offcourse the radioactive capsule. These materials will be seperated and disposed for reclycling. This method ensures large savings on the amount of radioactive waste and at the same time ensures compliance with article  36 of the Radiation Protectio Decree (Besluit Stralingsbescherming). 
This article obligates a contractor among others to prevent or reduce the formation of radioactive substances and to recycle radioactive substances - from which the capsule in the smoke detector consists - as much as possible. Applus RTD values Corporate Social Responsiblility very highly. If you want to dispose of ionizing smoke detectors, please conact Applus RTD Radiation Protection through the ' Request a quote' button. 
Attention:  For the storage and transport of multiple smoke detectors laws and regulations apply, to which you need to comply. Offcourse, Applus RTD can advise you on this matter. 
Functioning of an ionizing smoke detector and recognizing it

The radioactive source in the smoke detector (mostly Americium-241 or Radium-226) emmits alpha radiation,  which ionizes the air in the space it is located. This changes the  conductivity of the air, and whenever a powersource is connected between two points in that area, a small electrical current will begin to flow.  Smoke (=soot) will collect in the detector and  will obstruct the radiation partially, which in turn will alter the current. This ensures that, even with a minimal amount of smoke, the detector will sound an alarm and warn the people in the area. The applied amount of radioactive material is so small that ' normal'  use will not pose any risks to the people in the building or room. 
An ionizing smoke detector is recognizable from the round or triangular label on the backside, with the ' radioactive'  sign (trefoil symbol), an indication of the used radioactive substance and a statement of the amount of radioactivity.

Request a quote