The World Health Organisation (WHO) says no fewer than seven million people die every year from exposure to polluted air.
According to a WHO report on Wednesday, ambient, or outdoor air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016.
It added that household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.
Those figures are on a par with the number of deaths recorded in an earlier study published two years ago.
WHO said air pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of the world.
New data showed that nine out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants.
According to the report, more than 90 per cent of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low- and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterraneanregion, Europe and the Americas.
“Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“It is unacceptable that over 3 billion people – most of them women and children – are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes.
“If we don’t take urgent action on air pollution, we will never come close to achieving sustainable development,” he said.
The WHO recognises that air pollution is a critical risk factor for non-communicable diseases, causing an estimated one-quarter (24 per cent) of all adult deaths from heart disease, 25 per cent from strokes, 43 per cent from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 29 per cent from lung cancer. (dpa/NAN)