(HealthDay News) — Air pollution killed about seven million people worldwide in 2012, and more than half of those deaths were caused by indoor smoke from cook stoves, a World Health Organization report says. The U.N. health agency said that heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were the leading causes of air pollution-related deaths, CNN reported.

Of the seven million deaths caused by air pollution in 2012, 2.8 million occurred in the Western Pacific (which includes east Asia and the Pacific islands) and 2.3 million occurred in Southeast Asia. Indoor air pollution was linked to 1.7 million of the deaths in Southeast Asia.

The WHO said that about three billion people worldwide use wood, coal, and open-air fires for household cooking, CNN reported.

“Few risks have greater impact on global health today than air pollution: the evidence signals the need for concerted action to clean up the air we all breathe,” Maria Neira, MD, director of the WHO’s Department for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, said in the report.

Health Highlights: March 25, 2014