Episode 58 – Questionable Inventions – The One-Man Climate Disaster and Period Underwear

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This week we’re looking at inventions gone horribly wrong.

Olivia tells the story of the “one-man climate disaster,” aka the wildly successful 20th-century inventor Thomas Midgley Jr., whose creations caused widespread lead-induced madness and the near destruction of the ozone layer. Thanks to a bit of showmanship and barely any regulations, his inventions ended up in everyday vehicles and homes for decades after his untimely death.

Then, Elise digs into “forever chemicals” in period underwear, the little-known class-action lawsuit against Thinx underwear, and how to advocate for safer products.

Other topics include ethical inventing, the lead-crime hypothesis, and what we’re listening to.


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Story #1: The Disastrous Inventions of Thomas Midgley Jr. (Olivia)
Thomas Midgley Jr., via New Scientist

Sources:
Thomas Midgley Jr – The Most Dangerous Inventor in History, Brain Blaze, January 27 2020
Inventor hero was a one-man environmental disaster, New Scientist, June 7 2017
When does too much progress become a bad thing?, Financial Times Weekend, December 8 2021
Prometheans in the Lab: Chemistry and the Making of the Modern World by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, 2001
Thomas Midgley Jr., Wikipedia
This 1920s Inventor Sped Up Climate Change With His Chemical Creations, History, August 2019

Story #2: Period Underwear, PFAS, and Forever Chemicals (Elise)

Sources:
My Menstrual Underwear Has Toxic Chemicals in It, Sierra Club, Jan 2020
New Independent Study Confirms PFAS in Thinx, Other Products, Sierra Club, June 2021
What You Need to Know About “Nontoxic” Menstrual Underwear, Sierra Club, March 2020
Perfluoroalkyl substances exposure and immunity, allergic response, infection, and asthma in children: review of epidemiologic studies, National Library Of Medicine, Oct 2021
FLUORINATED CHEMICALS AND BPI CERTIFICATION, Biodegradable Products Institute, Sept 2018
New lawsuit contends period products contain ‘forever chemicals’, EWG, April 2022
Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Thinx Period Proof Underwear, Top Class Action, Nov 2020
Thinx Website
Thinx underwear PFAS lawsuit survives bid to dismiss, Reuters, June 2021
Knix Wear Sued Over PFAS Chemicals in Menstrual Underwear, Bloomberg Law, April 2022
Thinx Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Underwear Contains Harmful Chemicals, Top Class Action, May 2022
Thinx Toxic Underwear a ‘Safety Hazard to the Female Body’ Claims Class Action Lawsuit, Top Class Action, June 2021
What Is the Difference Between Fluorine and Fluoride?, ThoughtCo, Jan 2019

The list of underwear brands that do and don’t contain PFAS can be found here

Here’s my go-to breakdown of what PFAS are!

The Dump

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Ep. 60 – Volcanoes and Water Towers World Is Burning

This week we’re taking a closer look at what happens when the government procrastinates on its homework. Olivia tells the story of the “white city” of Armero, Colombia, where a 1985 volcanic eruption resulted in the deadliest mudslides in human history. She recounts the haunting story of 13-year-old Omayra Sanchez, and how the tragedy highlights the need for robust emergency management. Then Elise looks into the ancient origins of water towers, some more recent horror stories, and why we should care about how the government regulates water safety. Other topics include Sally Rooney, having an Oscar Wilde quote for everything, and buying sweaters in a heatwave. Subscribe/follow/press the button to keep up with new episodes every Wednesday! You can also follow us @worldisburnin on Instagram and Twitter, and check out our website worldisburning.com for extended show notes including sources and photos. World Is Burning is hosted by Olivia Hamilton and Elise Nye. Our theme music is by Kaycie Satterfield, and our logo was made by Sonja Katanic. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/worldisburning/message
  1. Ep. 60 – Volcanoes and Water Towers
  2. Ep. 59 – Is Bitcoin Just Beanie Babies for Men?
  3. Ep. 58 – Questionable Inventions – The One-Man Climate Disaster and Period Underwear
  4. Ep. 57 – The Multiverse – Destroying Electric Cars and Healing the Ozone Hole
  5. World Is Burning Presents: Bottle Episode – Daiquiris and Digressions with Nick Dolan