No subject

Wed May 18 15:38:07 CDT 2011

Ionization smoke detectors containing less than 1 μCi of Americium-241
are exempt from Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations. This means
that Federal Law does not prohibit the disposal of these detectors in
the normal municipal waste stream. There are, however, a number of State
and local regulations and/or laws that do prohibit disposal of
ionization smoke detectors in the municipal waste stream. Contact the
local solid waste management authority for up-to-date information about
local regulations or directives.

Older ionization detectors that contain more than 1 μCi of
Americium-241 are subject to regulation by the NRC, and they are subject
to more stringent requirements. Smoke detectors with 5 μCi or more of
Americium-241 should never be disposed of in the municipal waste


Peter Fear
Health Physics Technologist
SUNY Upstate Medical University
Radiation Safety Office
636 UH
750 E. Adams St.
Syracuse, NY 13210

Phone: (315)464-6510
FAX:     (315)464-5095
fearp at

>>> <ProRadCon at> 9/22/2011 2:35 PM >>>
We have a client requesting disposal options for two smoke detectors.
They took it upon themselves to look into options and received
something of a
sticker shock; consequently, I was approached to assist.  See their
description below.
"We have 2 ionization smoke detectors that we need to get rid of. 
descriptions are as follows:
-  A 6" (case diameter) unit made  by Ademco, model: 590, serial
Radioactive Material = Ra 226 (.05  microCuries).

-  An 8" unit made by Pyrotronics  Canada Ltd, model #DU-3.
Material = AM 241 (0.8 microCuries  max)."

My understanding was that such units were distributed, under proper
exempt distribution licensing, to persons/entities exempt from
therefore, they can be disposed as municipal waste.  I fact, I recall
regulatory guidance (NUREG 1717?) that evaluated the entire life cycle
of such
products from a dose standpoint.
Can someone direct me to either the applicable regulations and/or
that supports my understanding, or, in the case of my 
misunderstanding, to
viable disposal or recycling options that do  not require the
Thanks in advance,
Shane  Brightwell, MS, CHP
Professional Radiation Consulting,  Inc.
7 Balmoral Drive
Pittstown, NJ 08867
Office: (908)  730-9224
Fax: (720) 294-1153
Mobile: (631) 278-0610
E-mail:  proradcon at 

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