Self-luminous signs provide an alternative to the traditional electrical exit sign, but what are the options with self-luminous signs? One option is to use a Tritium exit sign, which is illuminated by a radioactive isotope of helium gas known as Tritium. The Tritium emits light for anywhere between 10 to 20 years as it decays.
In order to have Tritium signs, it is required that the consumer have a “general license” that allows the radioactive material to be traced to them in the event that it is mishandled. They must also report all their signs to the NRC to ensure they are being properly disposed of; a process which can cost companies $100 or more per sign. In 2009, Wal Mart reported 15,000 of their 70,000 Tritium signs as missing, raising concerns that the signs may have been improperly disposed of and risked contaminating the environment and drinking water of surrounding neighborhoods. Wal Mart has since stopped all purchase of Tritium signs and has moved on to using photoluminescent exit sign where applicable.
While Tritium exit signs are a viable non-electrical alternative to mark your exits, the risk associated with their radioactivity in your facility, their regulatory compliance requirements, and the cost of disposal makes them a difficult option to choose.  For more information about another non-electrical option to identify your exits contact us, or visit our website exclusively devoted to photoluminescent UL Listed Exit signs.