A neon sign is electric signage that uses glass tubes with electrified gas to create words and patterns. Unlike fluorescent lamps, which contain a small amount of mercury, neon signs use neon as the metal element for their lighting effect. The resulting light from these signs is more often regarded as more robust and sharper than most other types of artificial lighting.
In recent years, environmentalists have noticed that there are potentially very harmful aspects to using neons signs in public places. In turn, this has led to an interest in finding substitute materials that can be used instead of traditional neon elements for any outdoor signage or displays that may currently use neon tubes or tubing. Here follows a list detailing some common ways in which neons signs are commonly used and some suggestions for alternative materials that can be used to replace neon to preserve the environment.
Enhanced Signs for Retail Businesses
Neon signs have been a common fixture outside stores and restaurants for many decades. However, in recent years, there has been increasing concern amongst environmental groups and communities regarding the potential dangers posed by neons lamps and their components.
One important use of neon signage is to help direct people toward particular locations or public amenities such as bathrooms. It is much easier for people to find their way around an area if they can rely on such signage instead of searching themselves or asking other passersby. Signs containing neons can be highly effective in helping people to find their way around a foreign area. However, their environmental effects of them are often not discussed or taken into account.
Many signs which are put up outside of areas where there may be potentially hazardous materials need to contain some type of indication that danger is present. CAUTION signs are one common example of this, though other types exist as well. These types of signage typically use neons to indicate that danger or caution is required in an area, e.g., through the use of red coloring for lettering.
Motivational and Instructional Signs
Neon signage has long been used outside gyms and fitness centers so as to motivate passersby to enter. Signs containing neons are also often used to offer directions or instructions on how to use various pieces of gym equipment, as well as signs which convey an encouraging message to inspire people.
The environmental impact of neon signage is usually not discussed when this type of lighting is being considered for private business purposes. This does not mean that there are no negative consequences associated with the choice to use such signage – quite the contrary, since manufacturing and replacement processes can significantly affect the environment.