Associated Press

GENEVA – More than nine out of 10 people worldwide live in areas with excessive air pollution, contributing to problems like strokes, heart disease and lung cancer, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The U.N. health agency said in a new report that 92 percent of people live in areas where air quality exceeds WHO limits, with southeast Asia, eastern Mediterranean and western Pacific regions hardest hit.

The country-by-country figures come from new satellite data over rural areas to complement ground measurements in about 3,000 places worldwide. A similar WHO report released in May said that 98 percent of residents in large cities of low- and middle-income countries face excessively high air pollution.

WHO says one in nine deaths worldwide is linked to indoor and outdoor pollution.

Tuesday’s report focuses on outdoor air pollution, estimated to kill about 3 million people per year based on 2012 figures.

Rich countries are getting much better in improving the quality of the air and poorer countries are getting worse, said Dr. Carlos Dora, WHO coordinator for environmental and social determinants of health.

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