Disposing of Smoke Detectors
Both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms contain plastic and electronic circuit boards and in some cases batteries (alkaline or lithium). Ionization technology also includes a chamber containing radioactive material incorporated into a gold matrix. Because of the long half-life of americium-241 the amount of radioactive material in the smoke alarm at the end of its certified useful life will be about the same as when you bought it.
EPA's household waste program encourages waste reduction and minimization. State and local practices for safe disposal of smoke alarms vary, but most communities seek to limit the amount of material that requires disposal in a municipal solid waste landfills and incinerators. Waste minimization reduces costs and protects the environment.
Some State Radiation Control Programs conduct an annual round-up of ionization smoke alarms similar to the roundup of batteries or hazardous household chemicals. Other state or local governments recommend that you return the used smoke alarm to the supplier. The address of the supplier is usually listed in the product warranty or user's manual. If the smoke detector has a alkaline or lithium battery, check with your local community recycling program for disposal instructions.