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Photoluminescent Egress Lighting: How It Works And Why

Key topics for facility professionals. Keywords for this topic: Photoluminescent markings

Compiled by FacilitiesNet Staff

Photoluminescent egress lighting has been used for years on planes, trains and ships to assist evacuations, particularly when power is out. Today, photoluminescent egress lighting is being adopted more widely by facilities to help guide occupants in emergencies when there is little or no light. Photoluminescent egress lighting typically glows in the dark to define a space or path so occupants can orient themselves and identify a safe route that avoids all obstacles.

The components require no electricity since they absorb energy from ambient light and re-emit it when the light is out. The performance of a photoluminescent component is measured primarily by brightness and the amount of time it produces light. Performance in an application depends on several factors, including the pigment concentration, the intensity of light used to charge the pigment, how long the pigment is charged and the type of light used to charge the pigment. Fully charged, most pigments produce light at least eight hours, with the light level slowly decreasing.

Photoluminescent signs and markers are fully automatic in operation and require little maintenance. They require no electricity, other than to power the ambient light sources used to recharge them. They do not deteriorate from use and are nontoxic and non-radioactive.

A New Standard on Photoluminescent Egress Lighting

New York City’s Local Law 26, passed in 2004, law requires installation of photoluminescent emergency markings in any office building more than 75 feet in height, regardless of age. Part of Local Law 26 establishes the technical standard, RS 6-1, for installation of the photoluminescent signs and markings to be in compliance with the law. The standard identifies the minimum requirements for low-level photoluminescent markings to aiding build evacuations. The standard requires photoluminescent markings on:

 . All exit doors
 . All doors that lead to corridors that serve as exit passageways
 . The entire horizontal leading edge or side markings of all steps
 . The entire leading edge of all landings
 . The entire length of all handrails (in new buildings)
 . The entire length of all building egress paths
 . Edge markings for any obstacle that projects more than four inches into an egress path
 . Direction signs that point towards the means of egress.

In addition, “not an exit” signs must be posted over dead ends in a building.

Pathway marking systems for new and existing high rises are required by the 2009 International Building Code and the 2009 International Fire Code.

Pathway marking was also required in California following the MGM Grand fire in Las Vegas in 1985. Also, NFPA 101 required pathway marking in special amusement buildings after a fire at an amusement park in New Jersey in 1984.

Related Articles:
Photoluminescent Technology: Reliable Emergency Lighting in Buildings