||When the Lights Go Out, ASTM Photoluminescent Standards Lead the
Imagine a full blackout caused by a power outage in a facility
whose back-up generators have failed. Even in familiar surroundings,
it is easy to feel trapped and panic is likely to strike. In the
World Trade Center bombing of 1993, elevators and stairwells became
pitch-black. Thick smoke blocked emergency lighting in areas powered
by back-up generators, then water sprinklers flooded the generators
causing total darkness.
In these situations, photoluminescent safety markings come to
the rescue as non-electrical emergency lighting. The markings
absorb daylight or artificial light and emit a yellow luminance
in full darkness, says Marina Batzke, general manager, American
PERMALIGHT Inc., Torrance, Calif., and chairperson of ASTM Subcommittee
E12.13 on Photoluminescent Safety Markings.
You may be well familiar with glow in the dark Halloween items
or toys for your kids, explains Batzke. The daytime color of
these gimmicks is similar to photoluminescent safety markings,
whereas the darkness-performance is severely lower. Up to now,
in numerous cases buyers were simply judging the daytime color
and accidentally bought cheap toy-type glow products for use in
safety applications. Price rather than reliable, bright, long
lasting performance was the decision-making factor. In an actual
emergency, such glow in the dark low-glow products would not
perform as needed and would not provide the necessary brightness
to illuminate your escape route.
Due to a lack of standards, it has been extremely difficult to
judge whether true photoluminescent safety products or glow in
the dark gimmick materials were installed as escape route markings.
To aid buyers of these products, ASTM published two new standards
-- E 2072, Standard Specification for Photoluminescent (Phosphorescent)
Safety Markings; and
-- E 2073, Standard Test Method for Photopic Luminance of Photoluminescent
These documents allow a clear distinction between photoluminescent
safety markings and glow in the dark gimmick qualities, states
Specification E 2072 requires a laboratory-tested photoluminescent
safety marking to emit at least 20 milli candela per square meter
after 10 minutes in the dark, and 2.8 mcd/m2 after 60 minutes
in the dark. On site, a 100-mm [4 in.] wide safety marking has
to emit minimum 15 mcd/m2 10 minutes after activation has ceased,
and 2.2 mcd/m2 after 60 minutes. This is identical with international
standards, such as German DIN 67510 and IMO Resolution A.752(18).
In the ASTM specification, markings that do not fulfill these
minimum luminance requirements are non-suitable for safety applications.
Their use should be limited to Halloween, gimmick, and toy use.
Test Method E 2073 outlines how to properly test luminance and
record findings in a report.
These new standards will avoid any future confusion among manufacturers,
architects, code officials, and the ultimate users regarding sufficient
luminance intensity and duration, proper installation and suitability
for safety purposes, says Batzke. She initiated the standard-writing
activity in 1995 with subcommittee members who represent code-writing
organizations, users, producers, and general interest.
Additionally, E 2030, Guide for Recommended Uses of Photoluminescent Safety Markings,
describes installation possibilities and provides drawings to
highlight typical applications in corridors, staircases, and as
signage (including escape route plans and ADA-compliant signs).
To learn more about the work of Subcommittee E12.13, contact Marina Batzke, American PERMALIGHT Inc., 2531 W 237th St., #113, Torrance,
CA 90505-5245 (310/891-0924; fax: 310/ 891-0996). Committee E12 meets Jan. 23-26, 2001, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. For meeting or
membership details, contact manager Bode Hennegan, ASTM (610/832-9740). //
Copyright 2000, ASTM