Thinx period underwear settles class action lawsuit over possibly causing fertility issues

Thinx period underwear settles $4 million class action lawsuit after ‘forever chemicals’ that can cause fertility issues were found in high quantities near the CROTCH of its supposed ‘organic and non-toxic’ absorbent undergarments

  • Thinx has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit for $4million
  • The suit alleges that the company misled women about the contents of its underwear, which it marketed as ‘organic and non-toxic’
  • In reality, the suit alleges, the underwear was found to contain so-called ‘forever chemicals’ that could cause fertility issues and cancers in high quantities
  • Nanoparticles also found in the underwear, it says, could put women at an increased risk of STIs and could be absorbed through the blood stream
  • Thinx continues to deny these claims, despite the settlement 
  • Anyone who bought the underwear from 2016 to 2022 will be eligible for money back 

Thinx, the leading period underwear manufacturer, has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit alleging it uses dangerous chemicals for a whopping $4million.

A group of women from California, Massachusetts, Florida and Delaware originally filed the suit in May 2022, alleging that Thinx executives ‘knew or should have known’ there were polyfluoroalkyl chemicals and metals right near the crotch of its underwear.

These ‘forever chemicals’ could be absorbed through the skin, the suit filed in the United States Southern District of New York claims, and could cause fertility issues and cancers in high quantities.

And the metals in the underwear could also put women at an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, 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 has bought the period underwear between November 12, 2016 to November 28, 2022. 

It has repeatedly claimed its underwear is ‘organic and non-toxic.’ 

Thinx Underwear has agreed to to settle a class action lawsuit alleging it uses dangerous chemicals for a whopping $4million

Thinx Underwear has agreed to to settle a class action lawsuit alleging it uses dangerous chemicals for a whopping $4million

 Questions about the chemicals in Thinx Underwear first started to emerge in January 2020 following a report by the Sierra Club, which sent a nuclear scientist two pairs of the underwear to test.

Jessian Choy wrote in the Sierra magazine at the time that she sent the pairs to Dr. Graham Peaslee, a nuclear scientist at the University of Notre Dame.

He found that the unused pairs of period underwear had thousands of parts per million of PFAs located right in the crotch area.

The adult version had 3,264 parts per million, while the one advertised for teenagers had 2,053 parts per million. The chemicals are prohibited in certain products over 100 ppm, under the Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Peaslee also found, using a particle-induced gamma ray emission spectroscopy, that there were tens of hundreds of parts per million of copper on the inside of the crotch and zinc on both sides. 

These chemicals have been found to cause negative health effects like decreased fertility and increased risks of cancer.

And the metals found in the underwear in an apparent effort to prevent leaking could be absorbed through the skin and even into the bloodstream.

In the years that followed, women who were dismayed by the findings filed a series of lawsuits throughout the country culminating in the class action suit last spring.

It argues that Thinx misled women about the potential harms of its period underwear.

As the lawyers for the five women named in the suit write: ‘Through its uniform, widespread nationwide advertising campaign, Defendant has led consumers to believe that Thinx Underwear is a safe, healthy and sustainable choice for women, and that it is free of harmful chemicals.

‘In reality, Thinx Underwear contains harmful chemicals, including multiple polyfluoroalkyl substances and silver nanoparticles, which are a safety hazard to the female body and the environment.

‘Thinx’s misbranding is intentional, and it renders the Thinx Underwear worthless or [of] less value.’

Jessian Choy, of the Sierra Club, decided to test two pairs of Thinx Underwear she bought

She sent them to  Dr. Graham Peaslee, a nuclear scientist at the University of Notre Dame, who found that they had thousands of parts per million of PFAs located right in the crotch area

Jessian Choy, of the Sierra Club, 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 had thousands of parts per million of PFAs located right in the crotch area

Thinx was founded in 2011 by Miki Agrawal, advertising itself as a 'safe comfortable and sustainable options for people with periods and bladder links'

Thinx was founded in 2011 by Miki Agrawal, advertising itself as a ‘safe comfortable and sustainable options for people with periods and bladder links’

Thinx was founded in 2011 by Miki Agrawal ‘with the purported mission of empowering women by providing “safe, comfortable and sustainable options for people with periods and bladder links,” the lawsuit says.

What ARE ‘forever chemicals’? 

‘Forever chemicals’ are a class of common industrial compounds that don’t break down when they’re released into the environment.

Humans are exposed to these chemicals after they’ve come in contact with food, soil or water reservoirs.

These chemicals — known more properly as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS — are added to cookware, carpets, textiles and other items to make them more water- and stain-repellant.

PFAS contamination has been detected in water near manufacturing facilities, as well as at military bases and firefighting training facilities where flame-retardant 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, smaller birth weights, and decreased vaccine response in children.

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From there the company, which is now run by Maria Molland Selby, claimed that it was using only organic materials — and allegedly provided fake documentation to back up that claim.

But in reality, the suit claims, the company uses PFAs and trace amounts of metals to prevent leakage in its period underwear.

PFAs are often added to textiles to make them more water- and stain-repellant. 

The health effects of these chemicals are largely unknown, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that high levels could lead to decreased fertility and higher risks of cancer, as well as damage to the immune system.

Meanwhile, antimicrobial textile finishes, like the one Thinx is accused of using, gained popularity in the early 2010s as a way to make clothing — particularly athletic clothing — odor-free. Companies mainly use silver and copper for these finishes to kill bacteria that causes odor.

According to the suit, Thinx has wrongly claimed on its website that its treatment is nonmigratory, meaning ‘it won’t come off your undies and that it only responds to bacteria *on the fabric* not your skin (so your vaginal microbiome stays fresh and balanced).’ 

Both metals, however, have been found to enter the skin through absorption. As a result, one study found, the silver nanoparticles could cause ultrastructural changes to the vaginal mucosa, urethra and rectum and could even enter the bloodstream.

Another study cited by the class action suit, conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, found that silver kills lactobacteria — a naturally-occurring bacteria found in the vagina.

It can therefore lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria resulting in bacterial vaginosis, increased risk of sexually transmitted diseased and increased risk of pregnancy complications and other similar conditions.

The European Union is now considering phasing out these use of nanoparticles in its clothing.

The company is now run by CEO Maria Molland Selby, who is accused in the suit of issuing a fake certificate showing that the underwear is organic and conducting a fraudulent study to disprove claims that there are PFAs in the underwear. Thinx denies these allegations

The company is now run by CEO Maria Molland Selby, who is accused in the suit of issuing a fake certificate showing that the underwear is organic and conducting a fraudulent study to disprove claims that there are PFAs in the underwear. Thinx denies these allegations

Thinx Underwear claims to be made entirely of organic materials

Thinx Underwear claims to be made entirely of organic materials 

The class action suit claims it uses PFAs and nanoparticles in its gusset layers to prevent leakage

The class action suit claims it uses PFAs and nanoparticles in its gusset layers to prevent leakage

The suit also argues that Thinx cannot  claim its underwear is organic, as the Global Organic Textile Standards says products cannot be classified as organic if they are found to have PFAs.

The company, though, has repeatedly denied that it uses PFAs in its products.

It even allegedly handed out a certificate saying the brand was compliant with the standards, though the certificate never actually named Thinx Underwear.

And, the lawsuit alleges, Selby issued a statement saying a toxicologist only found trace amounts of flouride — and no traces of PFAs following the Sierra Club’s revelations.

But, the suit says, the scientists only tested for long-chain PFAs — which take longer to break down — and not for short-chain chemicals.

‘As the designer and manufacturer of Thinx Underwear, Thinx knew, or at minimum should have known, that its underwear is treated with short-chain PFAs chemicals in order to enhance its performance by making it water and/or stain resistant,’ the suit claims.

‘Thinx did not conduct any testing for short-term PFAs chemicals because it knew that any such testing would reveal the existence of these chemicals in the Thinx Underwear.’ 

It later goes on to say: ‘Defendant knew or should have known of the dangers, and has undertaken a deliberate and willful pattern of conduct (including taking active measures) aimed at deceiving consumers, including leading Plaintiffs to believe that Thinx Underwear are free of chemicals shown to cause adverse health outcomes.’

But Thinx has repeatedly denied these claims, saying that its products are completely organic and it does not use these PFAs.

The company even says in the settlement agreement obtained by DailyMail.com: ‘Thinx vigorously denies all of the material allegations in the Action.

‘Thinx enters into this Agreement without in any way acknowledging any fault, liability or wrongdoing of any kind.’ 

Some women took to Twitter following the news to express their shock and dismay

Some women took to Twitter following the news to express their shock and dismay

Following the settlement, some women took to Twitter to express their shock, with one woman saying: ‘I’ve spent hundreds over the last several years on the period underwear, and they’ve been lying this whole time about them being toxic free.

‘All labels in this country are a lie, smh.’

Another woman said ‘this company is so exploitative and utterly vile’ for targeting teens.

Under the terms of the settlement, those with a proof of purchase can receive $7 back for each pair they bought.

Those who do not have a proof of purchase will receive a $3.50 refund. The most any one woman can receive is $21.

Claims can be submitted online here

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