You know that smoke detectors save lives, but did you know that you can save them from ending their life in a landfill? Although it is legal in Washington to dispose of ionization detectors in the trash, Kirkland residents are encouraged to recycle them as part of a new program offered by the City of Kirkland. Kirkland is the first jurisdiction in Washington State to offer the collection and recycling of smoke detectors. The collection site is located at Kirkland City Hall, Public Works Department, 123 Fifth Avenue and is open during regular business hours.
“Smoke detectors may be the only warning you have should a fire break out in your home,” notes Kirkland’s Fire Marshal Dave Walker. “Ensuring they function properly is vital.” Walker encourages residents to check smoke detectors on a regular basis. The City’s Fire Prevention Division reminds residents to conduct a check when resetting their clocks on March 9, 2014 when daylight savings time begins.
Two common types of smoke detectors found in homes are ionization and photoelectric detectors. Ionization smoke detectors, the most common, contain a very small amount of radioactive material known as Americium 241. Photoelectric-type smoke detectors do not contain any radioactive material. Because of the long half-life of Americium 241, the amount of radioactive material in the smoke detector at the end of its certified useful life will be about the same as when it was purchased. Smoke detectors present no danger while hanging on the wall of a home, however, when broken open in a landfill, the material can pose a health hazard.
Detectors collected by the City will be sent to Curie Environmental, which recycles the circuit board, properly disposes Americium 241 in a designed landfill for radioactive materials, and recycles the hard plastic case and remaining metals.
For more information about smoke detector recycling, contact Stephanie Gowing, Kirkland’s Recycling Programs Coordinator at 425-587-3814 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.kirklandwa.gov/recycling.