How Are Self Luminous Exit Signs Disposed?

Tritium Disposal Process

When your self luminous exit sign has reached the end of it's cycle, you will obtain an RGA number and follow our instructions to package and ship out your old exit sign. During this process a new exit sign order will already be sent out to you so you will not be without exit signage for long.


Once the package has shipped and you have notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the sign will be broken down into it's component pieces to be disseminated by various waste disposal and recycling facilities.

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The most vital factor in this process is the disposal of the tritium gas stored within phosphor coated glass tubes, which gave the exit sign it's green glow. Tritium produces a very low beta radiation signature, which can be harmful to humans in large doses over a period of time.

Self Luminous Exit Sign Breakdown Process

When you return your exit sign through our tritium recycling service, you will be given a confirmation receipt letter. You will not have to deal with the process after this point; we take care of the rest. However, it's good to know how exactly these self powered exit signs get recycled.

The exit sign's housing, frame and legend are segregated first. Whenever possible, we try to repurpose these components into the next generation of signs. If not, they are sent to recycling centers.

Tritium Recycling

Our licensed nuclear waste disposal broker takes the phosphor-coated tritium tubes and empties out the spent gas. Often the tritium gas, which has a long half-life, is still usable; only the phosphor in the tubes has actually expired. When this is the case, the reusable tritium goes through an enriching process supervised by the broker.

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After that, the tritium is ready to be injected into new tubes, ready to service a new self luminous exit sign for the next 10, 15 or 20 years.


Should you have any questions regarding this process or would like to dispose of your SL exit sign, call SLES Co. at 800-379-1129.

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