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Understanding Photoluminescent Pigments

A Guide to Glow-in-the-Dark Technology

Photoluminescent pigments are materials that absorb energy from light and then re-emit that energy as visible light, creating a glow-in-the-dark effect. These pigments are commonly used in safety applications, such as emergency signs, and can be mixed with various materials like paint, plastic, ceramics, glass, and fibers. The pigments are not radioactive or toxic, making them a safe and sustainable choice for a wide range of applications.

How Photoluminescent Pigments Work

Photoluminescent pigments contain inorganic chemical compounds, typically composed of aggregated crystal elements. When exposed to light, these compounds absorb energy and then release it over time as a glowing effect. The pigments can absorb a wide spectrum of visible light and re-emit it, allowing them to "charge" under different lighting conditions and glow in the dark without the need for electrical power.

A Brief History of Photoluminescent Pigments

Photoluminescent technology has evolved over the decades. In the 1970s, phosphorous pigments were used to create safety markings, but they had limited absorption capacity and required electric power to boost their glow. In the 1980s, stronger pigments made of zinc sulfide crystals were developed. However, the real breakthrough came in the 1990s with the introduction of strontium aluminate powder, which could fully charge in about 20 minutes and provide light for more than 10 hours. These advancements have made photoluminescent pigments more efficient and effective in various applications.

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Key Terms and Definitions in Photoluminescence

To understand how photoluminescent pigments perform, it's helpful to know a few key terms related to light and brightness:

  • Lumens: This measures the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source in all directions. A 60-watt incandescent bulb, for example, emits between 500 and 700 lumens.
  • Candle Illumination / Foot-Candles: This measures the brightness of light one foot away from the source. A typical living room might need 10-20 foot-candles of brightness.
  • Candela: This refers to the amount of light emitted by a lighting device in a specific direction. A common candle emits about one candela of light.
  • Millicandela (mcd): This measures the amount of light striking a single surface from a given angle. It's a common measurement for high-brightness LEDs.

Lumens are typically measured using an integrating sphere, which calculates the total light output in all directions. Millicandela, however, is highly dependent on the angle at which the light is emitted, which is why high-brightness LEDs designed for illumination are typically measured in lumens, while indication LEDs are measured in millicandela.

Top Lighting Options for Photoluminescent Materials

The type of light used to charge photoluminescent pigments affects their performance. Fluorescent, LED, and halogen lights are more effective than incandescent bulbs because they produce more light and less heat. Sunlight can also be used, but it may cause signs and labels to fade over time.

Proximity to the light source also plays a role in how effectively photoluminescent materials charge. The closer the material is to the light source, the more light it absorbs, resulting in a brighter glow. As few as 5 foot-candles of light (equivalent to a 15-watt bulb) can be used to charge photoluminescent labels and signs.

Photoluminescent Safety Standards

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires that photoluminescent exit enclosures be continuously illuminated for at least 60 minutes before a building is occupied. This ensures that the markings have time to fully charge and provide adequate illumination during emergencies.

Under typical stairwell lighting, photoluminescent signs and labels can take 30 to 60 minutes to fully recharge and then emit a steady glow for about eight hours. This provides a reliable source of illumination during power outages or emergencies, enhancing safety and compliance with building codes.

Photoluminescent pigments offer a versatile and energy-efficient solution for glow-in-the-dark applications. Their ability to gather energy from light and re-emit it without the need for electricity makes them a valuable resource in safety and other industries. Understanding how they work and the factors that affect their performance can help you make informed decisions about using them in your projects.

Photoluminescent egress path marking systems are an important life safety requirement in current building codes. These systems allow for the safe and quick evacuation of buildings in the case of an emergency. They provide a routing system that is not dependent on electrical power that can easily be followed in dark and smoke-filled exit pathways. Nystrom offers a full line of photoluminescent products. For more information, please visit our website or contact our Sales & Customer Support team.

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The Cost of Non-Compliance in Fall Protection

Financial and Legal Risks of Fall Protection Violations

When it comes to workplace safety, fall protection is one of the most critical areas, particularly in industries like construction, manufacturing, and maintenance. Despite its importance, many businesses still overlook or downplay the risks associated with non-compliance with fall protection regulations. The consequences of these violations can be severe, ranging from financial burdens to legal repercussions. We will explore the various costs associated with non-compliance in fall protection and why adhering to safety regulations is crucial.

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Designing Effective Joints

A Guide for Construction and Engineering

In modern building construction, joint design plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety, functionality, and longevity of structures. Properly designed joints accommodate movement due to thermal changes, seismic activity, and other forces that could reduce a structured lifespan. Early integration of joint planning into the building design process is essential to avoid costly surprises and ensure seamless coordination between architectural and engineering components. Here's how to approach designing effective joint product solutions.

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Benefits of Thermally-Broken Smoke Vents for Commercial Buildings

Enhancing Fire Safety and Energy Efficiency

In the realm of commercial building design, the integration of fire safety measures is paramount to protect occupants and property in the event of emergencies. One critical component of fire safety systems is smoke vents, which facilitate the safe evacuation of occupants and aid firefighting efforts. In recent years, thermally broken smoke vent products have emerged as innovative solutions that not only enhance fire safety but also contribute to energy efficiency and building performance. In this blog, we'll explore the benefits of thermally broken smoke vent products and their significance in commercial building design.

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Factors To Consider When Specifying Access Doors

Access doors are crucial components in various architectural and construction projects, providing convenient and secure entry points to enclosed spaces such as utility closets, crawl spaces, attics, and mechanical rooms. Their role extends beyond mere functionality, often contributing to the overall safety, security, and efficiency of a building or structure.

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Navigating the Spectrum of Commercial Floor Doors and Hatches

A Detailed Exploration

Commercial spaces demand versatile solutions, and when it comes to accessing utility vaults, crawlspaces, or storage areas beneath the floor, the choice of floor doors and hatches becomes crucial. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of various types, exploring their applications and emphasizing compliance with international building codes and fire safety standards.

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Understanding Portable Fire Extinguishers

A Comprehensive Guide

Whether at home, in the car, boat, work or school, you’ll find fire extinguishers ubiquitous with good reason. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, code 10, the maximum travel distance to an extinguisher in a commercial building is 75 feet, emphasizing their crucial role. Knowing how to select the appropriate extinguisher is critical.

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Benefits of Luminous Egress Markings

Illuminating Safety

In the realm of safety and emergency preparedness, luminous egress markings have emerged as a groundbreaking solution, revolutionizing the way we navigate buildings during low-light or emergency situations. These luminous markings, designed to glow in the dark, serve a crucial role in enhancing evacuation procedures and ensuring the safety of occupants. Let's delve into the myriad benefits that make luminous egress markings an indispensable feature in modern building design.

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Exploring Fire-Rated Floor and Access Doors Solutions

Bridging Safety Gaps

As early as 1897, the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has been addressing fire life and safety concerns. Currently, NFPA 80 is the standard for fire doors and other opening protectives. Chapter 16 of NFPA 80 is designated for access doors in both horizontal and vertical applications in fire-rated walls, floors, and floor-ceiling or roof-ceiling assemblies (NFPA 2022). This article addresses common uses, styles and specification tips for fire-rated floor doors and access doors.  

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What's the Difference? Smoke Vent Labeling

Fire Safety Certification Differences

In the realm of fire safety, the performance and reliability of smoke vents are critical. Two of the most recognized testing and certification standards for these products are UL 793 and FM 4430. While both standards aim to ensure the effectiveness of smoke venting systems, they have distinct differences that can impact the choice of products for commercial and industrial applications. In this blog, we'll explore these variations, shedding light on the distinctions between UL 793 and FM 4430 product labeling and what it means for your fire safety strategies.

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