Abstract Previous attempts to determine the degree to which exposure to environmental factors contribute to noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have been very conservative and have significantly underestimated the actual contribution of the environment for at least two reasons. Firstly, most previous reports have excluded the contribution of lifestyle behavioral risk factors, but these usually involve significant exposure to environmental chemicals that increase risk of disease. Secondly, early life exposure to chemical contaminants is now clearly associated with an elevated risk of several diseases later in life, but these connections are often difficult to discern. This is especially true for asthma and neurodevelopmental conditions, but there is also a major contribution to the development of obesity and chronic diseases. Most cancers are caused by environmental exposures in genetically susceptible individuals. In addition, new information shows significant associations between cardiovascular diseases and diabetes and exposure to environmental chemicals present in air, food, and water. These relationships likely reflect the combination of epigenetic effects and gene induction. Environmental factors contribute significantly more to NCDs than previous reports have suggested. Prevention needs to shift focus from individual responsibility to societal responsibility and an understanding that effective prevention of NCDs ultimately relies on improved environmental management to reduce exposure to modifiable risks.