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Smoke Alarms - Putting Radiation To Use.

Extracts from this document...


Putting Radiation To Use :

Smoke Alarms.

(Below) Diagram showing the basic set up of

a smoke detector and how it works.


How Do Smoke Alarms Work Then?

There are two main types of smoke detectors: ionization detectors and photoelectric detectors. A smoke alarm uses one or both methods, sometimes plus a heat detector, to warn of a fire. The type of smoke detector that will be concentrated on throughout this leaflet is an ionization detector.

Ionization chamber smoke detectors contain a small amount of radioactive material encapsulated in a metal chamber. They take advantage of

...read more.


The idea that the radioactive material in smoke alarms is in someway dangerous to the human body is nothing more than a common myth. The radiation dose to the occupants of a house from a domestic smoke detector is essentially zero. In fact, the amount of alpha particles emitted from standard smoke detectors is much less than that from natural background radiation. Most detectors make use of about two microcuries of americium-241 and this small amount of radioactive material is not a health hazard. On the other hand, the ability of domestic smoke detectors to save life and property has been demonstrated in many house fires.

There should be no cause for alarm when considering the health effects to your household from your smoke alarm.

...read more.


How Do I Dispose of My Old Smoke Alarm?

Because of the minimal amount of radiation that is contained within a standard ionization smoke alarm, it is perfectly legal to dispose of your old one in the same way as all other household rubbish. However, it is encouraged to return your used detector back to the manufacturer so that the nuclear waste may be disposed at a nuclear waste disposal facility.

When sending a detector back, do not dismantle, or crush it in any way. The entire device minus the batteries (which should also be properly disposed of or recycled) must be returned by normal post. It is advisable to post in a box padded by some cheap material so that it does not break or crush when being handled.

...read more.

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