Nine out of 10 people globally live in places with poor air quality, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said, blaming a worldwide air pollution crisis for being a major factor in millions of deaths per year.
"Indoor air pollution can be just as deadly. In 2012, an estimated 6.5 million deaths (11.6 percent of all global deaths) were associated with indoor and outdoor air pollution together. Some three million deaths a year are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution," the UN body said.
Almost all of the air pollution-related deaths are due to non-communicable diseases, such cardiovascular illnesses, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. And 90 percent of the deaths reportedly occurred in low and middle-income countries, with nearly two-thirds of them occurring in WHO's Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions.
"Air pollution continues take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations - women, children and the older adults," said Flavia Bustreo, assistant director general at WHO.
Maria Neira, head of the WHO's department of health and environment, said, "Solutions exist with sustainable transport in cities, solid waste management, access to clean household fuels and cook-stoves, as well as renewable energies and industrial emissions reductions."