SMOKE DETECTORS/SMOKE ALARMS

The following information is relevant for people that may have ionisation smoke detectors or smoke alarms in their home or work. Additional information on radioactivity in domestic smoke alarms is available from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) [external website].

 

Disposal

Household smoke detectors usually contain less than 1µCi (40kBq) of americium 241 (Am-241), which can be confirmed by reading the yellow label on the underside of the detector. If this is the case it is recommended that individual or small numbers of detectors are disposed of via normal household rubbish. Further information on the disposal of small quantities of smoke detectors is available from ARPANSA [external website]. If you have a large number of smoke detectors/alarms to dispose of, or if they are the older industrial type that may contain more than 1µCi (40kBq) of Am-241 or any other radioisotope, please contact the Radiation Health Section.

Smoke detectors containing more than 1µCi (40kBq) of Am-241 or containing any other isotope (such as Ra-226 or Kr-85), should not be disposed of in household rubbish; they must be sent via the Radiation Health Section for disposal in the Mt Walton disposal site.

 

Packaging

Should you need to bring smoke alarms to Radiation Health for disposal they should be doubly packaged in plastic bags and placed in a container such as a strong sealed cardboard box. Am-241 detectors may be packed 5 or 6 per plastic bag and up to 30 detectors per box. Ra-226 detectors or the older industrial type that contain more than 1µCi (40kBq) of Am-241 should be packed individually. Prior arrangement with Radiation Health should be made before delivery.

The boxes should contain a note clearly visible on opening, which says “Radioactive Material – Excepted Package” and giving a description of the box’s contents. The only marking required for Excepted Packages on the outside of the boxes is “UN 2911”; the outside of the box should not be labelled as radioactive.

 

Licensing and Registration

The possession of Americium 241 (Am-241) in smoke detectors is exempted from the usual restrictions placed on radioactive materials provided that the smoke detectors comply with the relevant Australian Standards, contain less than 40kBq of Am-241 each and that the total amount of Am-241 on the premises does not exceed 100MBq (more than 2500 smoke detectors).

 

Further Information

 

 

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Page last revised: 30 August 2013