Acetone, a colorless liquid also known as Propanone, is a solvent used in manufacture of plastics and other industrial products. Acetone may also be used to a limited extent in household products, including cosmetics and personal care products, where its most frequent application would be in the formulation of nail polish removers. Breathing moderate-to-high levels of acetone for short periods of time, however, can cause nose, throat, lung, and eye irritation; headaches; light-headedness; confusion; increased pulse rate; effects on blood; nausea; vomiting; unconsciousness and possibly coma; and shortening of the menstrual cycle in women.

Airborne Disease

Airborne disease can spread when people with certain infections cough, sneeze, or talk, spewing nasal and throat secretions into the air.

Ambient Particulate Matter

A mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air, ranging in size, origin and consequence. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, also known as fine particles or PM2.5, pose the greatest risk to health


Antimicrobials are chemicals added to products to kill or inhibit the growth of microbes. They are also called antibacterials or biocides.


Asbestos is a mineral fiber that occurs in rock and soil. All types of asbestos cause lung cancer, mesothelioma, cancer of the larynx and ovary, and asbestosis (fibrosis of the lungs). Exposure to asbestos occurs through inhalation of fibres in air in the working environment, ambient air in the vicinity of point sources such as factories handling asbestos, or indoor air in housing and buildings containing friable (crumbly) asbestos materials.

Bisphenols and Phthalates

Bisphenols are chemicals used to harden plastic; Phthalates are chemicals used to make plastic more flexible and to make fragrances last longer. Exposure to bisphenols and phthalates can be harmful, especially forfetuses and young children. They can mimic or block hormones — the chemical messengers that help our bodies function properly — causing health problems.

Communicable Disease

Infectious diseases caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi that can be spread, directly or indirectly, from one person to another.


Eave is part of the roof that extends out beyond the exterior wall.


An elevation is a view from the side of an object, when drawing interior elevations, this would represent one of the walls. This would include any windows or doors as well as any built-in furniture that is in direct contact with the wall.

Endemic / Endemic Countries

Refers to the constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infectious agent in a population within a geographic area.

Environmental Diseases

Environmental diseases are determined by environmental factors that can be related to the personal lifestyle (smoking, alcohol/substance abuse, abnormal eating patterns), physical factors from the environment (UV radiation, cold, heat, air pressure, electricity), or exposure the irritant or toxic chemicals from the environment (heavy metals, halogens, organic compounds, or noxious gases).

Ethylene Glycol

Ethylene glycol is a colorless, syrupy liquid. It is used as an antifreeze, in making polyester plastics, and for some manufacturing. It can harm the eyes, skin, kidneys, and respiratory system. Ethylene glycol can cause death if swallowed.

Fecal-Oral Route

Spread of microorganisms from the infected stool of one person into the mouth of another; may occur via fecal contamination of food or water supply, or by hand-to-mouth transmission following inadequate handwashing after touching contaminated items.


Formaldehyde is a colorless, highly toxic, and flammable gas at room temperature. It is used in the production of fertilizer, paper, plywood, and some resins. It is also used as a food preservative and in household products, such as antiseptics, medicines, and cosmetics. Exposure to formaldehyde can irritate the skin, throat, lungs, and eyes. Repeated exposure to formaldehyde can possibly lead to cancer.


Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.


Hygiene refers to behaviors that can improve cleanliness and lead to good health, such as frequent hand washing, face washing, and bathing with soap and water.

Indoor Air Pollution (IAP)

Indoor air pollution refers to chemical, biological and physical contamination of indoor air. It may result in adverse health effects.


Infectious diseases are diseases caused by microorganisms. These are microscopic organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. They can sometimes be caught from other people, the environment, from animal contact, or from insect bites.

Methylene Chloride

Methylene chloride, also known as dichloromethane or DCM, is a solvent used in a range of products. The average consumer is most likely to encounter it in paint strippers, even though safer alternatives exist. Methylene chloride has been linked to cancer, cognitive impairment, and asphyxiation.


Morbidity is the state of being symptomatic or unhealthy for a disease or condition. It is usually represented or estimated using prevalence or incidence.


In medicine, a term is used for death rate, or the number of deaths in a certain group of people in a certain period of time. Mortality may be reported for people who have a certain disease, live in one area of the country, or who are of a certain gender, age, or ethnic group.

Neglected Tropical Diseases

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of parasitic and bacterial diseases that cause substantial illness for more than one billion people globally. Affecting the world’s poorest people, NTDs impair physical and cognitive development, contribute to mother and child illness and death, make it difficult to farm or earn a living, and limit productivity in the workplace.

Non-Communicable Disease

A non-communicable disease is a noninfectious health condition that cannot be spread from person to person. It also lasts for a long period of time. This is also known as a chronic disease.


Overcrowding occurs if there are more than three people per habitable room; it can be measured as the average living area per person in the place of residence.


Perchloroethylene, also known as perc, is a colorless, nonflammable liquid solvent with a sweet, ether-like odor. It is primarily used in industrial settings and also for dry-cleaning fabrics and degreasing metals. During dry cleaning, perc primarily enters the body from inhalation of the vapors, potentially resulting in the following health hazards: dizziness, drowsiness, and loss of coordination; mild loss of memory, visual perception, and reaction time after several years of exposure; or redness and blistering of the skin after prolonged dermal contact.


“PFAS” is short for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances. PFAS don’t easily break down, and they can persist in your body and in the environment for decades. As a result of their pervasiveness, more than 95 percent of the U.S. population has PFAS in their bodies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Plan drawings are a specific type of drawing architects use to illustrate a building or portion of a building. A plan is drawn from a horizontal plane looking down from above.


The quality or state of being porous (permeable to outside influences).

Potable water

Potable water also known as drinking water, comes from surface and ground sources and is treated for microorganisms, bacteria, toxic chemicals, viruses and fecal matter. Drinking raw, untreated water can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, vomiting or fever.


Sanitation refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe management of human excreta from the toilet to containment and storage and treatment onsite or conveyance, treatment and eventual safe end use or disposal.


Section drawings are a specific type of drawing architects use to illustrate a building or portion of a building. A section is drawn from a vertical plane slicing through a building.


Toluene is a colorless liquid with a sweet, pungent odor. It’s used in paints, dyes, solvents, fingernail polish, and gasoline. Exposure to toluene can cause eye and nose irritation, tiredness, confusion, euphoria, dizziness, headache, dilated pupils, tears, anxiety, muscle fatigue, insomnia, nerve damage, inflammation of the skin, and liver and kidney damage.

Unintentional Injury

Unintentional injuries consist of that subset of injuries for which there is no evidence of predetermined intent.


Vectors are mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas that spread pathogens. A person who gets bitten by a vector and gets sick has a vector-borne disease.

Vector-Borne Disease

Vector-Borne Diseases are human illnesses caused by parasites, viruses and bacteria that are transmitted by the bite of infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes, ticks, triatomine bugs, sandflies, and blackflies.

Vector Control

Vector control is the principal method available for controlling many VBD (Vector-Born Disease). Vector control aims to limit the transmission of pathogens by reducing or eliminating human contact with the vector.


Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are organic chemical compounds that evaporate easily at room temperature. VOCs are widely used at home and work, so exposure to airborne VOCs is unavoidable.


WASH is the collective term for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Due to their interdependent nature, these three core issues are grouped together to represent a growing sector. While each a separate field of work, each is dependent on the presence of the other.


Xylene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It’s used in the petroleum and wood processing industries. Exposure to xylene can irritate the eyes, nose, skin, and throat. Xylene can also cause headaches, dizziness, confusion, loss of muscle coordination, and in high doses, death.


Inadequate housing and poor living conditions are still one of the major causes of disease and death around the world.

This affects communities everywhere, from remote areas to urban centers in low to high income countries worldwide. Unfortunately, disciplines to address these problems are siloed, stunting the capacity to develop, implement, and evaluate multi-disciplinary projects that would enable wellness within families through more adequate housing.

Our Mission is to optimize the positive impact of housing on health through interdisciplinary synergies.

The Health Through Housing Coalition (HtHC) is a platform where people from different fields, organizations, and communities come together to share knowledge, resources, and ideas for adequate and healthier housing. Through interdisciplinary collaboration we unlock the full potential of projects and solutions contributing to building healthy communities around the world.

Spearheaded by ARCHIVE Global, we are comprised of representatives from nonprofits and NGOs, academic institutions, public health experts, design professionals, multilateral organizations and more. Learn more about the coalition here. Join the coalition by becoming a member — it’s free!

Whether you are looking for information, exchange with professionals or enacting projects all around the world: you are in the right place.


Explore our diverse Resources center to learn about the intersection between health and the built environment. Learn about terms you’re not familiar with in our Glossary tab to the right.


Share your experiences, and learn about others’ on our Member Forum. Discover projects happening around the world, opportunities and challenges that people like you are encountering while doing work at the intersection of health and housing.


Translate knowledge into action by connecting with other members through our Member Directory to develop and implement projects together worldwide as multidisciplinary teams. Not ready to commit? Sign up for our Newsletter for updates on tools, resources and opportunities.

Check out what some of our members are up to!

Bangladesh Flooring: Mud to Mortar

Often, cities that are rapidly urbanizing wind up with informally built homes that are susceptible to holding disease vectors. This is the case in Savar, Bangladesh and in the nearby villages where most of the houses are characterized by dirt floors… read more

Health Through Housing Forum Highlight Cameroon
Building Sanitation in Idenau, Cameroon

According to the WHO, open defecation causes a number of health risks and diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio. Poor sanitation also causes 280,000 diarrhea-related deaths… read more

Health Through Housing Forum Highlight Namibia
Malaria Project in Namibia

ARCHIVE Global, in partnership with the Clinton Health Access Initiative, DXA Studio, Wipe Out Malaria, and Ministry of Health and Social Services, aimed to improve health outcomes and reduce the incidences of malaria in rural Namibia through housing screening interventions… read more

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