(above) generic phthalate. This image is 500 x 500 pixels; the original image is 4096 x 4096 pixels.
Phthalates are compounds based on PHTHALIC ACID (generated via phthalic anhydide), a benzene derivative. Various side chains (shown here as purple spheres) project from each carboxyl group. Phthalates are commonly used to soften plastics and concerns have been voiced about their potential to cause cancer or mimic hormones.