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Vol. LXI, No. 5
March 6, 2009

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Have a question about some aspect of working at NIH? You can post anonymous queries at (click on the Feedback icon) and we’ll try to provide answers.

Feedback: Would it be possible for NIH to install lighted crosswalks on campus? I have seen these in various communities in the area—strips of blinking lights at pedestrian crosswalks. Especially in the late afternoon or early evening, it can be difficult to notice the crosswalks and anyone who may be crossing.

Answer from the Office of Research Facilities: The Office of Research Facilities investigated the potential for lighted crosswalks on campus several years ago and decided it would be too expensive.

Posters reminding employees about leaving lab coats in the lab have been posted in strategic locations across campus.
As someone who goes to the B1 cafeteria in Bldg. 10 on a daily basis, I am used to seeing people having lunch there in scrubs, lab coats and other types of working attire. I am not paranoid and I don’t mind if someone (who may work in construction) has a little dirt on his/her shirt. But I find it irresponsible, in fact plain wrong, when people wear their scrubs and lab coats. Bldg. 10 is home to a lot of patient related work and this troubles me most: people in scrubs effectively a) carry their patient/hospital/ lab environment to the common lunch area, and b) carry back food to their patients! I find this behavior to be in violation of common practice (and common sense as well). Such two way contamination of places that should be separate could easily be avoided by leaving scrubs and lab coats where they belong. I assume that NIH has some policy in place regulating this issue. If so, this is a policy worth enforcing.

Answer from the Office of Research Services: Multiple NIH policies already prohibit lab coats, scrubs, gloves and other garments used in a laboratory or for animal care from being worn in public areas. Generally, they should not be worn outside of the laboratory area and definitely not in cafeteria space.

NIH is aware of the problem—including issues in cafeterias, on public transportation and in other public areas—and is working to better educate staff of this policy. The Division of Occupational Health and Safety, ORS, has tried to raise awareness via training sessions, posters at the NIH Research Festival and signs and stickers on laboratory doors, animal facilities and outside cafeterias, including in Bldg. 10. However, as an employee, you can also help by reminding your colleagues when you see it happening.

Feedback: Can we please get Eurest to post the nutritional content of the food served at NIH?

Answer from ORS: Eurest says there is too much variability in its chefs’ recipes, so it does not provide the information. However by the end of March, the nutritional information for Au Bon Pain, Sbarro’s and other commercial vendors along with the USDA Guide to Better Nutrition and Meal Planning will be posted on the Food/Concession Services web site at

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