Identifiers containing radioactive gas were one of the first self-luminous solutions offered to building owners in need of an energy-free egress component. A Tritium exit sign consists of a phosphor coated glass tube filled with a form of hydrogen gas. The gas and phosphor coating react as beta decay occurs to create the desired amount of illumination. These identifiers have an average lifespan of ten to twenty years, which varies based on how quickly the beta decay process takes place in each installed component. Tritium exit signs entail a higher cost than photoluminescent alternatives and have specific dangers due to the included toxic materials. Building owners implemented Tritium products to obtain a zero-energy solution for reduced costs and increased reliability; however, new technologies are making this signing option obsolete for egress compliance.
Why Is Photoluminescence A Safer Option?
Tritium exit signs create a substantial danger to the environment if not handled correctly. A tube breakage allows the gas to enter the atmosphere and mix with oxygen to create tritiated water. This water is capable of mixing with drinking sources, entering the soil, penetrating rocks, and can be consumed by every avenue of life. While a small dose is considered to not be dangerous, traces of Tritium within individuals has been found to increase the progression of certain medical conditions. They are regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) due to the dangers associated with the gas. Tritium exit signs are more expensive to purchase, maintain, and dispose of than photoluminescent alternatives. Additionally, a tube breakage requires precise clean-up measures and reporting processes. Breakages, missing or lost identifiers, and owner transfers must be reported to the NRC immediately. Egress products using photoluminescence to generate illumination are a safer option because they eliminate these hazards.
What Performance Differences Exist Between The Two?
The average lifespan of photoluminescent exit signs is twenty-five years with minimal maintenance or concern. Each sign can be installed within a matter of minutes and is recycled at the end of its use. Disposal costs remain low due to recyclability qualities as opposed to the extensive expenses of Tritium exit sign removal. The purchasing price is comparable; however, the duration of use for each type varies significantly. Tritium identifiers are not as reliable since their lifespan is dependent on the generated reaction as beta decay occurs. Identifiers with phosphorescence properties have a lower replacement frequency than Tritium signing due to this variance.
Photoluminescent exit signs remain available as long as natural or artificial light sources are part of their surroundings. Owners do not have to stress about an accidental tube breakage during maintenance or deal with unexpected complications as power sources fail. Photoluminescent exit signs provide the same benefits as Tritium products and are a suitable egress compliance measure for decreasing implementation risks. Each identifier absorbs energy from surrounding light sources and then releases it in the form of a green glow for easy visibility. Maintenance tasks are limited since the signs do not require further care such as tube changes. Photoluminescence makes it easier for building owners to offer occupants a reliable, non-toxic visual aid at times when primary evacuation components fail.