Monday, May 23, 2022

Poison Educator Spotlight: Vannia Atao


1. Tell me your history with poison control and how you became an educator. 

I am currently a graduate student at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am studying to get my MPH with a concentration in epidemiology. I got my undergrad at the same school in public health. I've been in the health care industry for about 10 years. I started my journey as a certified nursing assistant since I originally wanted to be a nurse. Over the course of 4 years, I realized it wasn't for me and stepped away from direct patient care and studying nursing altogether. I spent the next several years finishing up my undergrad and interning at school to popularize the public health program since it was brand new. After college, I landed my first "big girl" job at a women's health company and absolutely loved it. It was a new side of healthcare. I helped develop the back-end processes for patients in telehealth and trained the patient care department on these processes. I worked closely with the company's medical and pharmacy to deliver patients their medication. I decided to go back to school during that time, so I have been doing both since January.

2. Have you heard any stories about calls that surprised you that come into the poison center?

I haven't heard any calls, but I did attend rounds with the toxicologists at work, where I listened to a patient ingesting LSD and still having side effects 48 hours after ingesting it.

3. What do you think people need to know about the people who answer the phones for poison control?

More people need to know that the people who answer the phone are licensed professionals such as nurses, doctors, and pharmacists, and some are bilingual

4. What do you enjoy most about being an educator and why?

I enjoy being an educator because I love what TPCN stands for. I think this is a resource that everyone needs to know about. I didn't grow up knowing about the poison center and now that I work for NTPC, I tell everyone about it! I also love spreading the good word to kids, parents, and the entire community about the poison center

5. Why do you think it is essential for people to have poison control as a resource for emergency help?

There is definitely a gap of knowledge in the community we serve about having the poison center as a resource. Most people's first instinct is to call 911 when poisoning happens. When people know that the poison center is a free resource, they are more inclined to use it. You never know if the poisoning could be treated easily at home. It might save you time, gas, a trip to ER, and maybe your life. 

The Dangers of Children Ingesting Marijuana (THC) Infused Foods

As more and more states are legalizing marijuana, it makes it easier for kids to accidentally ingest tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) containing foods and candies, also known as edibles.  Parents need to be diligent in keeping their kids safe from accidental exposure to edibles, especially gummies.

What are THC edibles?

THC-infused foods and candies are also known as marijuana edibles.  They look very similar, if not identical, to common everyday foods and candies you can find in any grocery or convenience store. Some examples include:

·       Gummy candies

·       Chocolates & other sweet or tart candies

·       Cookies and other baked goods

·       Lollipops

The primary concern with THC-infused edibles is that they look and taste just like regular foods and candies that don’t contain THC. People may not be able to tell the difference in look or taste between regular items and those infused with marijuana (THC).

Consuming high amounts of THC can cause significant effects.  Consuming any significant amount of THC can cause undesirable effects. Some symptoms of these undesirable effects could include:

·       Altered perception

·       Intoxicated state

·       Anxiety

·       Panic or paranoia

·       Dizziness

It is important to note that a recommended serving size (by the person or manufacturer of the product) for edibles varies greatly by product and can at times be as little as a portion of one piece.  It is also important to note that there is no recommended dose for a child as it is not legal in any state for children to consume.  

Edibles can be potentially dangerous, especially to small children. The effects can be delayed and sometimes take hours to appear.  People experimenting for the first time with THC containing edibles might take more than is recommended, thinking they are not feeling the “effects”.   This can lead to potentially ingesting more than the recommended amount or enough to cause undesirable effects.   Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 if you have any questions or concerns about a potential poisoning from a THC-infused product.

For more information on this topic and other poisoning concerns, visit