What can I do with a household full of ionization smoke
alarms, which say they contain ninth-tenths of a
microcurie of the radioactive material americium? Iíve
tried calling everyone I can think of, but nobody has
been able to give me an answer.
I know it probably defies common sense, but Keep
Northern Illinois Beautiful, an award-winning
environmental group in Loves Park since 1988, says you
can dispose of them with the rest of your non-recyclable
garbage. Whatever is left of that tiny bit of americium
apparently is not worrisome.
stateís Environmental Protection Agency recommends
that such smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors be
disposed of in the household trash, KNIB says. Just
remove the batteries and consider securing it in a
heavy-duty zippered plastic bag.
detectors are not on the list of electronics to be
recycled," KNIB says. "They are not accepted
at Illinois household hazardous waste
if you donít mind the muss, fuss and expense, consider
contacting the original manufacturer and see if and how
you might return them for recycling. The U.S. Postal
Service conveniently lists many of the more prominent
makers ó including Kidde, G.E. and First Alert ó
along with phone numbers, addresses and websites at
you find no satisfaction there, you might look up Curie
Environmental Services (www.curieservices.com) in New
Mexico, which offers CuriePacks for mailing back alarms
containing Am-241. For $8 each, the company will recycle
any alarm with fewer than 5 microcuries that you send
them. Or you can buy one of their mailer kits, which
include shipping and recycling ó $49.99 for a
four-alarm kit and $219 for a container that will hold
up to 25. Ra-226 and Ni-63 alarms are accepted at
additional cost. Go to the website for details.
always, thanks for caring about the environment.