If you bought a period underwear product made by Thinx, you may now be eligible for a refund thanks to a class action lawsuit announced in November.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit accused Thinx of using potentially harmful chemicals known as PFAS in its underwear — and not telling customers about it.
Thinx, which was founded in 2013 and is based in New York, has agreed to pay $4 million to pay for claims submitted by customers and any court-approved attorneys’ fees, expenses, and service fees that customers may be owed. The company has also agreed to provide up to an additional $1 million if needed to cover valid claims.
“As part of the settlement, Thinx has agreed to take numerous steps to ensure that PFAS are not intentionally added to the products at any stage of production, which directly addresses the concerns of plaintiffs and group members,” said Erin Ruben, an attorney for the Plaintiffs said in a statement. “We are very pleased that the settlement will bring this significant non-monetary relief to consumers in addition to the cash refund.”
Thinx denied all of the plaintiffs’ allegations in the settlement, emphasizing that the settlement was not an admission of guilt.
“We take customer health and product safety seriously,” a company spokesman said in a statement. “We can confirm that PFAS have never been part of our product design. We will continue to take steps to ensure no PFAS are added to our products.”
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, is a family of synthetic chemicals used in the manufacture of consumer goods — including food packaging, cosmetics, or textiles such as raincoats or workout clothes — due to their ability to absorb stains, grease, and water.
The presence of PFAS appears to have been first reported in January 2020 in the Sierra Club magazine “Sierra” with the headline “My menstrual underwear contains toxic chemicals”. Reporter Jessian Choy sent her Thinx to a University of Notre Dame nuclear scientist, who found high levels of PFAS, “particularly in the inner layers of the crotch.”
That contradicts Thinx’s claims that its products are “certified” organic, Choy wrote.
PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they can be persistent in the air, water and soil. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to low birth weight, high cholesterol, thyroid disease and an increased risk of certain types of cancer, such as liver cancer.
“Given the extent to which we are seeing PFAS in the environment and in our bodies, and the truly harmful effects that occur with low levels of exposure, we need to act more urgently to remove PFAS from all garments,” said Erika Schreder, the science director at Toxic-Free Future, an environmental health research and advocacy group.
“We would be particularly concerned about dermal exposure from a textile that is worn next to the skin for long periods of time,” she added, citing preliminary evidence that PFAS can cross the skin barrier and potentially enter the bloodstream.
Thinx customers can receive a $7 refund for any purchase of up to three pairs of Thinx period underwear that is on Thinx’s records or for which they provide valid proof of purchase.
Applications can be made here.