Thinx, the leading manufacturer of period underwear, has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit alleging it uses dangerous chemicals for a whopping $4 million.
A group of women from California, Massachusetts, Florida and Delaware originally filed the lawsuit in May 2022, claiming that Thinx executives “knew or should have known” that polyfluoroalkyl chemicals and metals are located directly in the crotch of the underwear.
These “forever chemicals” could be absorbed through the skin, the lawsuit filed in the United States’ Southern District of New York alleges, and could cause fertility problems and cancer in large quantities.
And the metals in underwear could also put women at increased risk of STDs, with one plaintiff even reporting that she developed bacterial vaginosis – a type of vaginal inflammation – after wearing the underwear regularly.
Thinx continues to deny these claims, but has agreed to reimburse anyone who purchased the period underwear between November 12, 2016 and November 28, 2022.
It has repeatedly claimed its underwear is “organic and non-toxic”.
Thinx Underwear has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit alleging it uses hazardous chemicals for a whopping $4 million
Questions about the chemicals in Thinx underwear first surfaced in January 2020 after a report from the Sierra Club sent a nuclear scientist two pairs of underwear to test.
Jessian Choy wrote in Sierra magazine at the time that she sent the couples to Dr. Graham Peaslee, a nuclear scientist at the University of Notre Dame.
He found that the unused pairs of period underwear contained thousands of parts per million of PFAs right in the crotch area.
The adult version had 3,264 parts per million, while the version advertised for teenagers had 2,053 parts per million. The chemicals are banned in certain products above 100 ppm under Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Peaslee also found, using particle-induced gamma-ray emission spectroscopy, that there were tens of hundreds of parts per million of copper on the inside of the step and zinc on both sides.
These chemicals have been found to have adverse health effects such as: B. reduced fertility and an increased risk of cancer.
And the metals found in underwear to prevent leakage could be absorbed through the skin and even into the bloodstream.
In the years that followed, women dismayed by the results filed a series of lawsuits across the country, culminating in the class action lawsuit last spring.
It is argued that Thinx misled women about the potential harms of his period underwear.
As attorneys for the five women named in the lawsuit write: “Through its consistent, widespread nationwide advertising campaign, the defendant has led consumers to believe that Thinx underwear is a safe, healthy and sustainable choice for women and that it is free from harmful substances is chemicals.
“In fact, Thinx Underwear contains harmful chemicals, including several polyfluoroalkyl substances and silver nanoparticles, which pose a safety hazard to the female body and the environment.
“Thinx’s misbranding is intentional and renders Thinx underwear worthless or [of] worth less.’
Sierra Club’s Jessian Choy, left, sent two pairs of Thinx underwear to Dr. Graham Peaslee, a nuclear scientist at the University of Notre Dame. He found that the unused pairs of period underwear contained thousands of parts per million of PFAs right in the crotch area
Thinx was founded by Miki Agrawal in 2011 and advertised itself as a “safe, convenient and sustainable option for people with periods and bladder problems”.
Thinx was founded in 2011 by Miki Agrawal “with an ostensible mission to empower women by providing “safe, convenient and sustainable options for people with periods and bladder problems,” according to the lawsuit.
What ARE “forever chemicals”?
“Forever Chemicals” are a class of common industrial compounds that do not degrade when released into the environment.
Humans are exposed to these chemicals after coming into contact with food, soil, or water reservoirs.
These chemicals — better known as per- and polyfluoroalkyls, or PFAS — are added to cookware, carpets, textiles and other items to make them more water and stain repellent.
PFAS contamination has been identified in water near manufacturing facilities and at military bases and firefighting training facilities where FR foam is used.
The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancer and damage to the immune system, as well as birth defects, lower birth weight and reduced vaccine response in children.
From there, the company, now run by Maria Molland Selby, claimed it only uses organic materials – and allegedly produced fake documentation to support that claim.
But in reality, according to the lawsuit, the company uses PFAs and trace metals to prevent leaks in its period underwear.
PFAs are often added to textiles to make them more water and dirt repellent.
The health effects of these chemicals are largely unknown, but the Environmental Protection Agency has found that high levels can lead to decreased fertility and increased risk of cancer, as well as damage to the immune system.
Meanwhile, antimicrobial textile finishes, of the kind Thinx is accused of, gained popularity in the early 2010s as a way to deodorize clothing — particularly athletic wear. Companies primarily use silver and copper for these finishes to kill odor-causing bacteria.
According to the lawsuit, Thinx falsely claimed on its website that its treatment is non-migratory, meaning it “doesn’t come off your underwear and it only reacts to bacteria *on the fabric*, not on your skin (so your vaginal microbiome stays fresh). and balanced).’
However, both metals have been found to enter the skin through absorption. As a result, according to one study, the silver nanoparticles could cause ultrastructural changes to the vaginal lining, urethra and rectum, and even enter the bloodstream.
Another study cited by the class action lawsuit, conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, found that silver kills lactobacteria — a naturally occurring bacterium found in the vagina.
It can therefore lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, leading to bacterial vaginosis, an increased risk of STDs, and an increased risk of pregnancy complications and other similar conditions.
The European Union is now considering phasing out this use of nanoparticles in their clothing.
The company is now run by CEO Maria Molland Selby, who the lawsuit alleges issued a fake certificate showing the underwear was organic and conducted a fraudulent study to disprove claims that PFAs are present in the human body underwear are included. Thinx denies these allegations
Thinx Underwear claims to be made entirely from organic materials
The class action lawsuit alleges that it uses PFAs and nanoparticles in its gusset layers to prevent leakage
The lawsuit also argues that Thinx cannot claim that its underwear is organic because Global Organic Textile Standards state that products cannot be classified as organic if they contain PFAs.
However, the company has repeatedly denied using PFAs in its products.
A certificate was even reportedly handed out stating the brand met the standards, although the certificate never actually named Thinx Underwear.
And according to the lawsuit, Selby issued a statement saying a toxicologist found only trace amounts of fluoride — and no traces of PFAs — after the Sierra Club revelations.
But, the suit says, the scientists only tested for long-chain PFAs — which take longer to break down — and not short-chain chemicals.
“As a designer and manufacturer of Thinx Underwear, Thinx knew, or at least should have known, that their underwear is treated with short-chain PFA chemicals to improve their performance by making them water and/or stain-resistant,” the suit claims.
“Thinx did not test for short-term PFA chemicals because it knew such testing would reveal the presence of these chemicals in Thinx underwear.”
It later went on to say: “The defendant knew or should have known of the dangers and engaged in a knowing and intentional pattern of conduct (including active measures) aimed at misleading consumers, including the plaintiffs’ belief that Thinx underwear was free.” of which are chemicals known to have adverse health effects.”
But Thinx has repeatedly denied these claims, stating that its products are completely organic and do not use those PFAs.
The company even says in the settlement agreement obtained by : “Thinx vigorously denies all material allegations in the lawsuit.
‘Thinx enters into this Agreement without in any way admitting fault, liability or wrongdoing of any kind.’
Some women took to Twitter after the news to express their shock and dismay
After the settlement, some women took to Twitter to express their shock, with one woman saying: “I’ve given out hundreds of period underwear over the past few years and they’ve lied the whole time about it being toxin-free.
‘All labels in this country are a lie, smh.’
Another woman said “this company is so exploitative and absolutely despicable” because it targets teenagers.
Under the terms of the settlement, those with proof of purchase can recoup $7 for each pair purchased.
Those who do not have proof of purchase will receive a $3.50 refund. The maximum amount a woman can receive is $21.
Applications can be submitted online here.