The report, published Thursday in The Lancet, says that the deaths of approximately 9 million people worldwide in 2015 were linked to some form of pollution — air, water, soil, chemical or occupational pollution.
Various kinds of airborne pollution — smog from power plants, factories or vehicles — proved to be the most fatal form, accounting for 6.5 million deaths in 2015. Contaminated water caused 1.8 million people that year to die, and according to the report is the second largest contributor to premature deaths.
"I was shocked, when we started running the numbers, to see what a substantial impact it had on health," said Richard Fuller, co-chairman of the commission, according to Bloomberg.
An overwhelming majority of pollution-related deaths — 92 percent — occur in less-developed countries. One of every four such deaths occur in countries experiencing rapid industrialization such as India, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Madagascar and Kenya.
"Pollution disproportionately impacts the poor and the vulnerable," said Olusoji Adeyi, director of the health, nutrition and population global practice at the World Bank Group, adding that children face the highest risks. "It is important to translate awareness into action at the local, national and global levels."