PL Education

Timelines and History of Photoluminescent

Photoluminescence is not new, but it has come a very long way!

From the discovery of phosphorus back in the early 1600, to a call for emergency lighting safety standards in the late 1950’s and then to regulations today that call for photoluminescent egress pathway markings – there has been swift action towards making both private and public properties safer for everyone. For a detailed PL history click on the link below.

In 1602 Italian shoemaker, Vincenzo Casciarolo discovered phosphorus glowing in stones just outside Bologna and from that point the study of photoluminescence began.

  • 1669 phosphorus was first isolated
  • 1958 first edition of Underwriter’s Laboratories Standard for Safety of emergency lighting equipment is released.
  • 1973 the first chemical lighting device (Glow-stick) is patented
  • 1990 following Scandinavian Star Cruise Ship fire that kills 158, the International Maritime Organization mandates pathway markings on all cruise ships and ferries.
  • 1993 World Trade Centre bombing knocks out regular power and electrical exit signs so PL signs are installed in the tower.
  • 1997 PL pathway markings are installed in commercial aircraft
  • 2001 the 911 attacks lead to the Pentagon installing PL egress pathway markings and exit signs.
  • 2003 United Nations installs PL egress pathway markings in stairways and corridors
  • 2006 a new law in Connecticut states all new construction with occupancy over 300 must have egress markings.
  • 2007 Fresno passes a law requiring PL egress pathway markings as a retrofit requirement for commercial high rise buildings over 75’
  • 2009 ICC codes, IBC (new construction) and IFC (retrofit) require PL egress path markings in the stairwells of high rise buildings over 75’ in occupancies, A, B, E, R1, I, M.
  • 2012 ICC codes, IBC and IFC uphold the requirements of the 2009 codes. Also, the IBC Section 1011.2 states that floor level exit signs are required in Group R1 occupancies.