Recycling Smoke Detectors:
Smoke detectors have long posed a challenge for disposal, because many use small amounts of radioactive material, americium-241, to detect smoke. Porter County residents want to bring these products to household hazardous waste collections for proper disposal; however, smoke detectors are not accepted at these events due to their radioactivity.
Though top environmental and industry experts indicate that it is safe to dispose of smoke detectors in residential trash, we partner with a number of fire and EMS departments to offer our residents the opportunity to recycle unwanted detectors. Any of these locations will accept unwanted smoke detectors:
- Chesterton Fire Department, 702 Broadway, front entrance: Mon - Fri, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (219) 926-7162
- Porter Fire Department, 550 Beam St., front hall just inside the door: Mon - Fri, 7:30 a.m to 3 p.m. (219) 926-4212
- Valparaiso Fire Department Fire Station 2, 2605 Cumberland Dr. (219) 462-8325: Mon - Fri, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The entrance is located on the west side of the building marked, Main Entrance. Sat - Sun 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ring bell Battalion Chief door, southwest side.
- Ogden Dunes Fire Department, 111 Hillcrest Rd. 24/7 access by firehouse door (219) 763-1008
- Lakes of the Four Seasons Volunteer Fire Force Inc., 10645 Randolph St., Suite D, Winfield; through the Winfield Town office, suite A: Mon - Fri, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (219) 662-7576
- South Haven Fire Dept., 398 W 700 North, Valparaiso; 24/7 access main entrance north side of building (219) 759-3919
- Porter EMS Station #3, 453 W State Road 8, Hebron; front door ring bell and leave smoke detector in bin inside door; Mon - Sat, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (219) 464-9663
- Hebron Fire Department, 109 North Washington St.
- Valparaiso and Boone Grove compost sites
We will send unwanted detectors collected through this program to Curie Environmental Services, where the americium-124 will be segregated and sent to a special waste fill. The hard plastic case and remaining metals will all be recycled and diverted from the solid waste stream.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says smoke detectors do not pose a health threat as long as they are not tampered with and used as directed.
Carbon monoxide detectors do not contain radioactivity and can be recycled in Porter County Recycling’s regular electronics recycling program.
The Porter County Fire Association and the National Fire Protection Association recommend checking all smoke detectors every six months to ensure they are in working order. They also recommend replacing smoke detectors every 10 years. Residents should contact their local fire departments with any questions or visit nfpa.org.