Building Codes & Standards: Photoluminescence
LL-26 (Local Law 26 NYC): photoluminescent paints & markings

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LL-26 & Photoluminescent Paints

What Is LL-26 (Local Law 26) And How Does It Affect Me?
In the aftermath of 9-11, The New York City Department Of Buildings has adopted more stringent safety standards for buildings in the New york City area. The New York City Building Code 27-383(b) that resulted from this has led to the adoption of Local Law 26 of 2004 which details many new and more stringent demands on building safety including the use of photoluminescent safety markings and egress systems. The demands for photoluminescent exit path markings have been detailed in Reference Standards 6-1 and standard 6-1a.
Scope Of LL-26 Reference Standards 6-1 & 6-1a
These standards are intended to provide minimum requirements for photoluminescent exit path markings that will aid in evacuation from buildings in the event of failure of both the power and back-up power to the lighting and illuminated exit signs. Photoluminescent material is charged by exposure to light and will emit luminance after the activating light source is unavailable. The markings covered by this standard are not designed to provide enough light to illuminate a dark egress path, but rather will provide luminescent signs and outlines of the egress path, stairs, handrails, and obstacles, so that occupants can discern these egress path elements in dark conditions. The markings are generally required to be located at a low location in case of smoke and to be readily seen, such as in a crowd situation. The photoluminescent signs and markings are in addition to, and not as a substitute for, any other signage required under the Building Code, such as electrically illuminated exit signs with electrical back-up power required under 27-383(a).
These LL-26 Standards Directly Affect:
  • Technical specifications for minimum performance of the photoluminescent markings
  • Minimum requirements for placement of the photoluminescent signs and markings
  • Administrative obligations that insure buildings and photoluminescent markings comply
  • Maintenance requirements of the photoluminescent signs and markings in the building
LL-26 Reference Standard 6-1a : Mandatory Certification Of Photoluminescent Materials & Paints
Due to LL-26 no photoluminescent materials and paints that have not been certified can be applied within your building (!). All photoluminescent paints have to be certified for:
  • a minimum brightness rating of BR 30-7-5
  • a maximum toxicity level
  • a maximum radioactivity level
  • a minimum fire safety level
  • washability
  • resistance to UV degradation and weather
Certification can only be approved by the NYC Department of Buildings'Material and Equipment Acceptance Division (or: MEA). Photoluminescent paints and products that have not been MEA approved can not be installed (!).

One of the very few industrial photoluminescent paint suppliers that does meet all these requirements in it's products is Kryptaglow.

This means that it's paints can be used safely in your building and ensures you comply with local laws, standards and regulations when you apply them, as long as you also follow the directives for placement of photoluminescent signs, markings and egress systems. Should you, however, choose to apply an inferior paint that is not MEA certified in accordance with LL-26, or use other photoluminescent materials for your buildings'safety markings, you would be in breach of Local Law 26.
LL-26 Maintenance Requirements to Photoluminescent (Phosphorescent) Safety Markings
When choosing photoluminescent materials in order to comply to LL-26, one should also take into consideration the factor of durability. LL-26 stipulates a stringent control on maintenance of photoluminescent signs, markings and egress systems. At a minimum, owners are obligated to perform a visual inspection of the signs every 12 months. Signs that show signs of wear or missing MEA labels must be noted and promptly repaired. These efforts must be logged for inspection by the Department of Buildings and the Fire Department.Deviations from any of the requirements of this standard shall be a violation of the code. This not only means that non-MEA certified paints, materials and signs in accordance with LL-26 are simplyinadmissable,it also means that investing in durable quality photoluminescentpaints, signs and materials, will prove to be a much better investment than fitting out your building with photoluminescent materials that are less durable..

For this reason one should consider a tested and approved photoluminescent paint supplier such as Kryptaglow: See Certification Info >>.
LL-26 Recommendations Regarding Light Sources & Other Materials Affecting Photoluminescent Performance
Photoluminescent paints and markings require light sources to charge. For this reason LL-26 requires specific lighting conditions in buildings as well as a minimum brightness rating for photoluminescent materials and paints. You should therefor carefully plan your lighting system and choose photoluminescent paints and materials that exceed the brightness rating as much as possible. In addition a minimum of abrasion resistance and slip-resistance is recommended. If a paint you apply to high traffic floors does not provide these, you may not be in breach of LL-26, but because of the maintenance directive in LL-26, you might find yourself facing high maintenance costs.

When selecting a paint for photoluminescent or phosphorescent safety markings, one should take all the stipulations of LL-26 into consideration. For more details, visit the NYC government site regarding: LL-26 Reference Standards 6-1 and 6-1 a.
More about building codes and standards in relation to photoluminescent paints & markings