Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is an NRTL?

A. NRTL stands for Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory. OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration has recognized certain testing facilities that provide product safety testing and certification services to manufacturers, e.g., in compliance with photoluminescence-related standards such as UL924 for code-compliant EXIT signs and UL1994 for code-compliant Egress Path Marking Systems. You find a list of OSHA approved NRTLs at

Q. May I apply the handrail marking in my emergency staircases on the wall behind the handrail?

A: No. The IBC and IFC requirements indicate that all handrails shall be marked on the top surface of the handrail for its entire length with a solid and continuous stripe of minimum one-inch width.

Q. Are NYC MEA listed products also IBC/ IFC codes compliant?   

A: No.  NYC Department of Buildings required its own distinct set of tests for a p/l material to obtain Material- and Equipment Acceptance (MEA). For NYC, luminance was measured following activation by 2 fc = 21.6 lux of fluorescent lighting for 120 minutes.  The more stringent IBC/IFC codes on the other hand require just 1 fc = 10.8 lux of fluorescent lighting for only 60 minutes.  So p/l materials have to accomplish bright, long lasting performance with only half the illuminance and half the length of activation time.

Q. Can photoluminescent paint be UL1994-listed as egress path marking?

A. No. Underwriters Laboratories Inc explains on its website for UL1994-listed markings: “Paint or pigment material must be pre-applied (at the manufacturing facility) to a substrate; field application of photoluminescent pigment (by painting, spraying, or similar method) directly to building materials or surfaces is not permitted due to uncontrolled application variables deemed significant for product performance.”

Photoluminescent liquid products can only obtain a Luminance Test Report from an NRTL – Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, like UL or ETL-Intertek in compliance with ASTM E2072-10. When this standard ASTM E2072-10 is used to show compliance with codes or standards, the manufacturer should have an agreement with an organization that is acceptable to the Authority Having Jurisdiction for follow-up factory inspection services. Also, ASTM E2072-10 does NOT require floor suitability testing of a marking.

Q. Are photoluminescent exit signs the same as self-luminous exit signs?

A. No. Both are non-electrical technologies, yet photoluminescent EXIT signs are non-radioactive and non-toxic.
Self-luminous EXIT signs, on the other hand, contain radioactive tritium, have a limited life expectancy (10, 15 or 20 years) that must be clearly visible on the outside of the installed sign. Once their useable life has expired, the self-luminous, radio-luminescent EXIT signs must be returned to the manufacturer, at which time the sender incurs a radioactive waste recycling fee.


Q. Where can I obtain a copy of the ASTM documents E2030, E2072 and E2073?

A.  It is important to also indicate the year of standard release, e.g., E2072-10. As of March 2012, these are the most recent releases and you may purchase these standards at

ASTM E2072-10–Standard Specification for Photoluminescent (Phosphorescent) Safety Markings (Note: An ASTM standard is issued under its fixed designation (here: E2072). The number immediately following (here: -10) indicates the year of its latest revision.)

ASTM E2073-10–Standard Test Method for Photopic Luminance of Photoluminescent (Phosphorescent) Markings

ASTM E2030-09a–Standard Guide for Recommended Uses of Photoluminescent (Phosphorescent) Safety Markings (Note: The numbers and letter at the end of this Standard, -09a, indicate the second 2009 document update published that year)


Q. Can I use photoluminescent EXIT signs instead of electrical exit signs?

A. Yes, IBC, IFC, and NFPA 101 codes allow photoluminescent exit signs that are listed and labeled in accordance with UL924. The photoluminescent exit signs shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and need to be illuminated in accordance with the sign’s UL924 listing.


Q. Is photoluminescence radioactive?

A. No, strontium aluminate-based photoluminescent pigment is not radioactive. The New York City MEA (Materials and Equipment Acceptance) requirements included a non-radioactivity test certificate for photoluminescent exit path markings and you can request such certificate from your photoluminescent material vendor.


Q: Are L-shaped Step Markers allowed per IBC and IFC codes?

A: No, 2009 IBC 1024.2.1 Steps requires a solid and continuous luminous stripe applied to the horizontal leading edge of each step which shall extend for the full length of the step.


Q: Where do I find reference to photoluminescent egress path markings in the 2009 IBC?
Section 1024 of the 2009 IBC – International Building Code addresses Luminous Egress Path Markings. Additionally, Section 1022.8.1 Paragraph 6 addresses Floor Identification Signs to be made of the same luminous material for buildings that are subject to section 1024.


Where do I find reference to photoluminescent egress path markings in the 2009 IFC?

A. Section 4604.22 in the Fire Code requires the retroactive installation of luminous egress path markings in Group A, B, E, I, M and R-1 occupancies with occupied floors located more than 75 feet above the lowest level of fire department vehicle access.