He said factors such as air and noise pollution, as well as poor water quality and exposure to chemicals, contributed to 13% of all deaths.
The report also notes that the poorest communities and vulnerable people are the hardest hit by pollution.
“Strong action is needed to protect the most vulnerable,” the agency said.
“There is a clear link between the state of the environment and the health of our population,” said EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius.
“Everyone should understand that by taking care of our planet, we are not only saving ecosystems, but also lives,” he added.
What does the report find?
The Copenhagen-based agency’s report was released on Tuesday and was described as “a major assessment on the health and [the] environment “in Europe.
It found that a total of 630,000 premature deaths in the EU were attributable to environmental factors in 2012, the latest year for which data are available.
Air pollution contributed to 400,000 annual deaths, with noise pollution contributing to 12,000. The remaining deaths were linked to extreme weather conditions such as heat waves.
“People are exposed to multiple risks at all times, including air, water and noise pollution, and chemicals, which combine and, in some cases, work in unison to have an impact on health, ”the report says.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says air pollution kills millions of people around the world each year and accounts for one-third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease .
Another WHO report on noise pollution, meanwhile, noted that it contributes to heart problems by increasing blood pressure and stress hormones.
The latest EEA report also explored affected communities.
“The poorest people are disproportionately exposed to air pollution and extreme weather conditions, including heat waves and extreme cold,” he said.
“This has to do with where they live, work and go to school, often in socially disadvantaged urban areas close to heavy traffic,” he added.
But there were some bright spots in the agency’s report. He said premature deaths from air pollution had fallen from 1 million by 1990, and also noted that water quality in most of Europe was doing well.
Which countries are the hardest hit?
The EU report noted “clear differences” between Eastern and Western Europe.
“The burden of environmental diseases is unevenly distributed across Europe,” he said. “The percentage of deaths attributable to environmental factors [ranges] from a minimum of 9% in Norway and Iceland to 23% in Albania and 27% in Bosnia and Herzegovina. ”
In the EU, the highest environmental contribution to mortality is observed in Romania with 19%. The other hard-hit countries are Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
In the UK, meanwhile, around 12% of deaths are believed to be linked to environmental pollution.
“Socially disadvantaged communities generally face a triple burden of poverty, poor quality environments and poor health,” the EEA report says.
“Eastern and South Eastern Europe are both poorer and more polluted than the rest of Europe, with particulates emitted from the combustion of solid fuels for residential heating and cooking “, he added.
The EEA said “green and blue spaces” should be prioritized as they “cool cities during heat waves, mitigate floods, reduce noise pollution and support urban biodiversity”.
He also said road traffic should be reduced and fossil fuel subsidies should be removed in order to solve the problem.