Air pollution caused 47,000 premature deaths in 2013, the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) said in a study published over the weekend.
Nitrogen dioxide was one of the widest-spread, dangerous substances, as well as fine particulate dust which can cause breathing complications or even lung cancer, the study said.
"According to the calculations by the Federal Environment Agency there are on average 47,000 premature deaths caused by too high levels of fine particulate matter every year - resulting from acute respiratory diseases, cardiopulmonary disorders or lung cancer," said Thomas Holzmann, UBA vice-president in a statement accompanying the release.
Dangerous pollutants came from wood burning, traffic fumes and power stations, the UBA said. It called for stricter air pollution controls from the European Union.