WHO: 23 per cent of deaths due to avoidable environmental factors

Nearly a quarter of all deaths are linked to manageable environmental factors such as pollution, workplace hazards and sanitary infrastructure, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.

An estimated 12.6 million people died from living or working in unhealthy environments in 2012, accounting for 23 per cent of global deaths, the UN health agency said in a report, citing the latest available data.

Some 4.8 million people die each year from cardiovascular problems that are caused by a broad range of environmental issues.

The best strategies to help prevent strokes and heart attacks are to avoid air pollution, smoking, exposure to lead, stressful working conditions and shift work, WHO said.

Preventable injuries including traffic accidents were next on the WHO's list of causes, with 1.7 million traffic deaths occurring every year.

WHO experts pointed out that poor urban planning contributes to many road accidents.

A further 1.7 million deaths from cancer are linked to factors such as air pollution, second-hand smoke, chemicals and excessive exposure to radiation and sunlight.

The UN health agency also urged countries to develop strategies to reduce the 1.4 million annual deaths from chronic respiratory diseases caused by unclean air and by exposure to dust and mold in workplaces and homes.

The WHO report also charted a decrease in infectious diseases.

Illnesses such as diarrhoea and malaria have declined as access to clean water, sanitation and medical services has improved in many countries.

"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," WHO Director General Margaret Chan said.

WHO found that the share of preventable deaths for children under five is 26 per cent, higher than the global average.

Last update: Tue, 15/03/2016 - 13:57

More from World

Russia blocks UN resolution for ceasefire in Aleppo

Russia blocks a resolution in the UN Security Council for a one-week ceasefire in the hard-fought northern Syrian...

"Mother" of India's Tamil Nadu state, Jayalalithaa dies aged 68

Jayaram Jayalalithaa, one of India's most powerful and popular politicians, died at a hospital in Chennai on Monday...

Islamic State calls for attacks on Turkey, Turkish embassies

An audio recording released in the name of the Islamic State extremist group Monday called for attacks on Turkey and...

Italy coastguard: more than 1,000 migrants saved, 16 bodies recovered

Some 1,022 people were saved and 16 bodies were recovered in recent migrant rescues on the Mediterranean, the...

Gambia opposition activists released on bail

A prominent opposition politician and 18 other activists were released on bail in Gambia on Monday, three days after...