Air pollution, water contamination and exposure to man-made chemicals claimed nine millions live last year, a major study concludes.
Researchers discovered at least one in six deaths across the world were caused by the three forms of deadly pollution.
The biggest killer was air pollution, which accounted for 6.5 million deaths on its own, a report published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet found.
Worldwide, the biggest impact from pollution was felt in regions undergoing rapid development and industrialization.
In the most severely affected countries, India, Pakistan and China, up to a quarter of all deaths were caused by pollution.
Around 2.5 million people in India were killed by pollution in 2015 - nearly a quarter of all deaths - and 1.8 million in China.
Scientists at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York City put the majority of the deaths down to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
Professor Philip Landrigan, co-author of the study, said: ‘Pollution is much more than an environmental challenge. ‘It is a profound and pervasive threat that affects many aspects of human health and well-being.’ He added: ‘It deserves the full attention of international leaders, civil society, health professionals, and people around the world.
New york, (daily mail)