Volunteers installed smoke alarms provided to residents of Oxnard by the American Red Cross and the Oxnard Fire Department. Calling the program “Sound the Alarm,” the new devices came with fire prevention education and were meant to address a common problem. Many people do not replace smoke detector batteries on a regular basis and some people do not obtain new smoke detectors when the old ones in their homes become defective.

In addition to the alarming vulnerabilities of house fires in homes without detectors, a related warning must be provided regarding disposal of old smoke detectors. Some national websites, including the website of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, distinguish between different types of smoke detectors and say some are allowed in landfills.

However, California has far more rigorous standards, and “there is no model of smoke detector that can be legally thrown into residential garbage in California,” according to Dustin Colyar, who manages household hazardous waste for the Ventura County Public Works Agency’s Integrated Waste Management Division.

Most concerning are ionizing smoke detectors, which contain radioactive material. Although the radioactive material is securely contained in a metal chamber within the device housing and is therefore safe for household use, throwing it into a trash cart subjects it to crushing by collection vehicles and at transfer stations and landfills, potentially releasing radioactive material into the environment.

To read the full story, visit https://www.vcstar.com/story/news/local/2024/02/24/eco-tip-sound-the-alarm-for-smoke-detector-disposal/72729031007/#.
Author: David Goldstein, Ventura County Star
Image: Chuck Kirman, Ventura County Star