Think you know what’s in your underwear? Thinx again.
Thinx — an absorbent underwear brand for menstruation or incontinence acquired by Kimberly-Clark in 2022 — markets itself as a safer, more sustainable alternative to disposable pads and tampons.
But plaintiffs in a 2022 class-action lawsuit claim third-party testing uncovered short chain per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), per NPR.
PFAS are synthetic chemicals used in products like nonstick cookware, water-repellent fabrics, cosmetics, and more, per the CDC.
They’ve been phased out in the US due to health and environmental concerns:
- They can contaminate soil, water, and air, and don’t break down.
- They can build up in people and animals.
- Research is ongoing, but studies have suggested a link to harmful health effects, including cancer and vaccine efficacy.
Thinx denies the lawsuit’s findings…
… but agreed last week to change its marketing language and some production practices, plus pay $5m to reimburse some customers.
Interestingly: The lawsuit follows a 2020 Sierra magazine report in which columnist Jessian Choy sent several pairs to a nuclear scientist for testing, who also found PFAS; then-CEO Maria Molland denied those findings.
A key issue? Marketing
The lawsuit doesn’t assert that Thinx caused anyone harm, just that its marketing was misleading.
People often pay a premium or make purchase choices based on claims that products are “sustainable,” “natural,” or “organic.”
A lawsuit filed last week against Coca-Cola’s Simply Orange Juice alleges its marketing “is designed to drive sales and increase profits by targeting health-conscious consumers” — despite containing high levels of PFAS.
BTW: Five EU nations — the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway — proposed banning the use and production of PFAS earlier this month.
Get the 5-minute roundup you’ll actually read in your inbox
Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less