Many experts now estimate the Great Smog claimed at least 8,000 lives, or perhaps as many as 12,000 lives in 1952.
The months of November and early December in 1952 had been very cold, with heavy snowfalls across the country. To stay warm, people were buring a large quantity of coal in their homes. However, this also meant that a large amount of smoke was pouring from the chimneys of their houses. Under normal circumstances, smoke would rise into the atmosphere and disperse, however due the extreme cold, an anticyclone was hanging over the region. According to histroy, "A high-pressure weather system had stalled over southern England and caused a temperature inversion, in which a layer of warm air high above the surface trapped the stagnant, cold air at ground level". This trapped the pollution close to the ground and leading to the formation of a sulfurous, toxic shroud that would blanket the capital for five days.
The fog finally cleared on December 9, however, the Great Smog of 1952 was lethal, particularly for the elderly, young children, and those with respiratory problems. 4,000 people died premautely in the immediate aftermath according to initial reports. However, the damaging effects remained, until the summer of 1953, London saw death rates well above normal. Many experts now estimate that at least 8,000 lives, and perhaps as many as 12,000 were lost between 1952-53. The smog did not just adversely affect people; several birds lost in the fog crashed into buildings and died.
To ensure that such a situation would not occur again, A series of laws were brought in. The Clean Air Acts of 1956 and 1968 banned emissions of black smoke and decreed residents of urban areas and factories' operators must convert to smokeless fuels.