Smoke Detector Radiation

What about smoke detector radiation? Should we be concerned? In 2011, with renewed interest in radiation, one exposure to consider is your smoke detectors potential output of radiation.

To understand the exposure will require understanding the types of radiation, exposure and the damage caused.

First, it is not something we need to worry about. Second, there is a natural radiation defense built into our bodies and it is called glutathione. More on this at the end of this section.

What is Smoke Detector Radiation?

One of the two basic types of smoke detectors, the ionizing smoke detectors have two chambers with a very small amount of radioactive material sealed inside a metal chamber. The ionization given off creates an electrical current. When smoke enters the chamber, the creation of electricity stops and with out this tiny electric current, the alarm sounds. The tinniest amount of smoke will set it off.

Just like in the human body, ionization produces free radicals, atoms with out electrons. Once these free radicals enter into the body as an enemy insurgent, the marines to the rescue is the glutathione. It sacrifices its self to neutralize the free radical.

Incidentally, the low energy radiation like visible light, infrared light, microwave, and radio waves are not ionizing radiation. They may damage molecules but only by creating heat and not by free radical disruption of the cell (unless it gets really hot).

Americium is a radioactive synthetic element that is used for the ionization electrical current formation. This is the source of smoke detector radiation.

Americium produces mostly produce alpha particle radiation. A piece of paper can protect you from this form of radiation. Even the exposure over a year will be less than what humans are exposed to every day from natural sources. It is estimated to be about 1/100th of a millirem per year. Unless you swallowed it. It is unlikely to cause you any harm.

In comparison, you significant other is a significant source of radiation giving off about 2 millirem of radiation.

Your granite counter top gives off radiation as it may have as much as 20 parts per million of uranium. Be assured that these also give off extremely low amounts of radiation.

And even the salt substitute potassium chloride salt substitute has a tiny bit of radioactivity. It is beta radiation from Potassium 40. It is less likely to do any harm to your health than too much salt will.

Low energy radiation such as visible light, infrared, microwaves, and radio waves, are not ionizing. The radio active material inside the smoke detector is a flat disk, only ¼ to ⅜ inch in diameter. Bottom line, it is not enough to harm us.

Radiation Exposure

It is felt that the average person gets about 240 millirem of radiation every day from safe sources or natural sources.

Our Body and the Natural Radiation Defense System

If some radiation is natural and we were created to live on the Earth with the natural radiation, does it also seem that there would be some natural form of defense against the damage too much radiation would cause?

Remember the free radicals mentioned above that are caused by the radio active decay? The free radicals, once entering our body are just like the oxygen species free radicals and the hydrogen species free radicals that do damage to our health. Our body has a natural defense against radiation. It is called glutathione. Glutathione sacrifices itself and neutralizes the free radicals.

This is an over simplification of the process but, the important thing to know, boosting our glutathione can help prevent any damage from too much radiation.

Effects of Exposure to Radiation

Aircraft Radiation Exposure

Radiation Poisoning Symptoms

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