Thinx settles lawsuit alleging harmful chemicals in period underwear

  • In a class action lawsuit announced in November, plaintiffs accused Thinx of failing to tell customers that its menstrual underwear contained potentially harmful PFAS.
  • Thinx has agreed to settle the case and pay up to $5 million as a result, reports say.
  • A spokesperson for Thinx denies claims that its products contain PFAS.

Thinx will pay up to $5 million to settle a lawsuit accusing the brand of failing to inform customers about potentially harmful chemicals in its underwear.

The New York-based adult period and incontinence apparel company has agreed to pay $4 million for consumer claims and any court-approved attorneys’ fees, and an additional amount of up to $1 million to cover additional valid claims, NBC News reported.

In the lawsuit, which began more than two years ago, NPR reported, The plaintiffs said Thinx’s period underwear contains PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are synthetic chemicals used to make food wrappers and workout clothes grease- and water-resistant.

In December, the settlement received preliminary approval from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and plaintiffs learned of the settlement just days ago, NPR reported.

The company denied the allegations and made clear the settlement was not an admission of guilt, according to NBC.

“We take customer health and product safety very seriously,” a company spokesperson said in a statement obtained by NBC. “We can confirm that PFAS have never been part of our product design. We will continue to take steps to ensure that PFAS are not added to our products.

The first report of Thinx underwear potentially containing the chemicals was in January 2020, from Sierra Club magazine columnist Jessian Choy. In her column, Choy said she sent her Thinx underwear to a nuclear professor who detected PFAS in the crotch of the item.

An editor’s note attached to Choy’s story on Friday hinted at a class-action lawsuit as a result of Choy’s investigation into the toxicity of her own Thinx underwear.

“As part of the settlement, Thinx has agreed to take a number of steps to ensure that PFAS are not intentionally added to the products at any stage of manufacturing, which speaks directly to the concerns of the plaintiffs and class members,” a lawyer for the plaintiffs said in a statement obtained by NBC.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to high levels of PFAS can lead to an increased risk of certain cancers, changes in liver enzymes and increased cholesterol levels.

Founded in 2013, Thinx considers its underwear “the first period of innovation” in 76 years since the invention of the menstrual cup, according to its official site. Ten years later, period underwear is still a small part of the menstrual care industry, although several companies have emerged to compete with Thinx.

The class-action lawsuit isn’t the first problem Thinx has faced since launching in 2013. In 2017, founder and former CEO Miki Agrawal was accused of acting inappropriately at work in an article in New York Magazine’s The Cut.

Former employees alleged that Agrawal commented on their breast sizes, changed clothes in front of employees and often talked about her sexual desires at work, according to the report. Amid the shocking allegations, Agrawal stepped down from his CEO role in 2017, The New York Post reported.

Thinx customers who purchased underwear between November 12, 2016 and November 28, 2022 can submit a claim before April to potentially receive a $7 refund for each purchase of up to three pairs of period underwear or a coupon for 35% off one single purchase up to $150.

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