According to the World Health Organization (WHO) recently, one in four deaths worldwide are due to environmental factors like air, water and soil pollution, as well as unsafe roads and workplace stress.
An estimated 12.6 million people died in 2012 as a result of living and working in unhealthy environments, 23% of all deaths reported globally, according to the new study.
Pollution in Beijing streets
"If countries do not take actions to make environments where people live and work healthy, millions will continue to become ill and die too young," warned WHO chief Margaret Chan in a statement.
The report defines environmental causes broadly, drawing links between a long line of environmental risk factors like pollution, chemical exposure, climate change and ultraviolet radiation, as well as access to firearms and more than 100 diseases and injuries.
As many as 8.2 million of the deaths could be blamed on air pollution, including exposure to second-hand smoke, which is responsible for heart disease, cancers and chronic respiratory disease, the report said. Among the deaths attributed to environmental factors were 1.7 million caused by "unintentional injuries," including road accidents. The report also counted 846,000 diarrheal disease deaths among environmental mortalities, adding that many were linked to pollution and unsafe drinking water.