Numerous building owners find it difficult to determine what type of signing is best to affordably remain compliant with local building code regulations. An abundance of available options makes it even harder to make a decision. The traditional choice of incandescent lighted identifiers has been abandoned for many years due to the introduction of self-luminous Tritium-based products. Photoluminescent identifiers are a new energy free solution to owners desiring an environmentally safe and dependable choice. Tritium exit signs were developed in the mid-1950’s as an alternative to signs coated with Radium paint. These signs still have risks due to the radioactive materials used to generate self-illumination qualities. Photoluminescent products remove the inclusion of toxic materials while providing a reliable source as an emergency takes place. Cost, lifespan, and hazard possibilities are the most debated factors when choosing between the two types. Many owners choose Tritium because it has become the most commonly implemented type of identifier for meeting building safety codes and using less energy; however, newer photoluminescent options are a winning choice in all three areas.
What Are The Dangers of Tritium Identifiers?
Tritium exit signs are lighted by a form of radioluminescence generated by a reaction with the phosphor coating and beta decay of the gas. The electrons become excited and then release radiation to create a visible light source. This illumination occurs in a glass tube that is comparable to the design of an older style tube-based television. Tritium identifiers cannot be seen during regular daylight, but become visible as a structure begins to darken. Electrons put off by the reaction within these tubes are low energy meaning they are incapable of penetrating the skin or other types of thin surfaces. As long as the electrons do not escape from the glass tube, they are safe for use. A safety issue arises when discussing the topic of a tube break because the electrons enter the atmosphere and mix with oxygen molecules. This creates tritiated water, which is absorbable by the skin and can be inhaled or ingested. A breakage additionally allows these electrons to enter the environment causing harm to humans, animals, and plants.
Tritium Products Have an Inconsistent Usage Life
Tritium exit signs are limited in regards to length of use as a reliable lighting source due to their small half-life as beta decay occurs. They are capable of lasting for up to twenty years, but the duration of use varies based on the amount of gas included in the tubes and the overall design. Identifiers of this nature have a ten to twenty year lifespan; however, they must be replaced before meeting the projected usage life at a much higher disposal cost than photoluminescent choices. Glow-in-the-dark signing uses a specialized pigment that is non-toxic and lasts for a minimum of twenty-five years. Photoluminescent products have no operational costs, do not harm the environment, and are less expensive to dispose. These signs have no special handling requirements in regards to maintenance or disposal. They last longer and offer a further decrease in compliance costs than the once suitable option of Tritium-based products.