An estimated 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012 – nearly 1 in 4 of total global deaths, according to the latest estimates from WHO. Environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation, contribute to more than 100 diseases and injuries.
By focusing on reducing environmental and social risk factors, nearly a quarter of the global burden of disease can be prevented. Examples include promoting safe household water storage, better hygiene measures, safer management of toxic substances in the home and workplace. At the same time, actions by sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture are required urgently, in cooperation with the health sector, to address root environmental and social causes of ill-health that lie beyond the direct control of the health sector.