Dispose of Smoke Detectors Properly

Smoke detectors

Two common types of smoke detector found in residen­tial homes may also be found in some postal facilities. The two types of smoke detectors are ionization and photo­electric detectors. Ionization smoke detectors contain a very minute amount of radioactive material known as Americium 241. Photoelectric-type smoke detectors do not contain any radioactive material. The amount of radioactive material contained in ionization smoke detectors is so small it does not pose a risk to human health. If the detector contains radioactive material, it is required by law to have a warning label on the body of the detector. Look for the label on the back of the detector facing the mounting base.

Photoelectric smoke detector warning label

The label may have the international symbol for radiation (as shown). If the smoke detector does not include either the warning or the radiation symbol on the label, and if there is no evidence the label has been removed or destroyed, it is safe to assume the device does not contain any radioactive material. If the label is missing or destroyed, treat the device as if it is an ionization unit. These detectors do not last forever, and at some point they need to be disposed. Proper disposal of ionization units is described below. Some state and local laws and regula­tions prohibit the disposal of ionization smoke detectors in the municipal waste stream. For this reason, smoke detec­tors containing radioactive material should be returned to the manufacturer for disposal. If the manufacturer refuses to accept the return of the smoke detector, check with your local governmental agency or contact the Office of Sustain­ability via email at sustainability@usps.gov.

When returning a detector to the manufacturer, include a note indicating the detector is to be disposed of, and mail it to the address listed on the back of the detector. The fol­lowing smoke detector manufacturers/distributors will take back their smoke detectors:



Phone Number

Address for Return


American Sensors/Dicon Global


Call to receive a number and return information

Accepts Dicon Global

American Sensors brands only



Firex c/o Disposal

28C Leigh Fisher Blvd.

El Paso, TX 79906

Website address:


First Alert/BRK

800-323-9005 Ext. 2

Customer Service Dept

3920 Enterprise Court

Aurora, IL 60504

Accepts up to four device of First Alert/BRK brand at a time. Call ahead for mailing instructions.

G.E. Security/ESL


12345 Southwest Levetan Dr.

Tualatin, OR 97062

Will accept G.E. Security/ESL brands only



Returned Goods,

Honeywell, Inc.

Dock 4-MN10-3860

1985 Douglas Drive North

Golden Valley, MN 55422

Accepts Honeywell smoke detectors only www.ecccustomercare.com


800-880-6788 Ext. 1

1016 Corporate Park Dr.

Mebane, NC 27302

Will only accept Kidde brand smoke detectors


local number

Some Sears locations are

designated collection sites

Call to find out if local Sears will accept smoke detectors

System Sensors

800-736-7672 Ext. 1

Call to receive a reference

number and return information

Will accept “System Sensor” brand only. Asking payment of $3.00 for each detector to cover recycling costs.

USI Electric/Universal

800-390-4321 Ext. 1

Attention: Disposal Dept.

7A Gwynns Mill Court

Owings Mills, MD 21117

Return only detectors that say “ionization” on the back. Only USI Electric or Universal brand detectors accepted. Enclose a note that the smoke detector is being returned for recycling.