London Sign Makers & Designers

There are plenty of myths and misconceptions out there surrounding neon signage – with a number pertaining to their safety for both commercial and domestic use.

In short neon signage is incredibly safe to use, providing it is well looked after and treated with respect. However, we’d like to take the chance to clear up several common queries we get asked around this subject…

Q. Is the gas used in neon poisonous?

A. No – not in the small amount present in the tube.

Let us elaborate: Neon signs contain either Neon gas or Argon gas, both of which are inert gases and as such have no reaction when inhaled in small quantities, they are present in the air we breathe daily.

The only thing that is harmful within an argon tube is the addition of a small amount of elemental mercury.

Elemental mercury occurs widely in the environment, mercury causes damage when it is cumulatively absorbed into the body over time.

If a tube is broken it is recommended to air the room in which it is located, and clean up any mess created. The NHS website states that the small amount of mercury in the tube is extremely unlikely to cause problems for your health and provides extra precautionary advice for clean-up, this is the same advice as for fluorescent lamps.

Another safety-related question we frequently get asked is whether neon signs can burn you. So…

Q. Does neon get very hot to the touch?

A. Generally no.

There are a couple of reasons a neon section (tube) would get hot. This can be either due to the existence of impurities in the tube (air usually), the electrodes having too much current passed through them due to incorrect calibration or if it’s incorrectly installed.

The only other time that an electrode may be hot is on large diameter tubing running at a high current in the range of 150mA.

We hope you found this post helpful? Check out more of our neon articles here. If you would like to learn more about the safety of neon signs, please take the time to get in touch and we can talk to you about any type of project you have in mind.