"'Temperature Inversion' in London 1962 killed 5,000 folks in 3 days. (Warm air is on top, like a cap, and all the poisons get trapped in there, inside.)
"'Mostly old folks with lung trouble anyway or bad hearts,' they said. Figuring it out, later, they found that inversion for 5 days, instead of 3, would kill all of London, man and boy. Ten million London folks done in by the stink they send to heaven."
-Digger Papers, 1968
NB: A couple of mistakes from above: The "Great Fog" was 1952, not '62, and research today shows that actually 12,000 people died. Also, only two thirds were over 65:
"At the time, officials reported that the smog had caused the deaths of mainly the old and those already suffering from chronic cardiovascular and respiratory illness. It was later determined that only two-thirds of the original 4,000 dead were over 65 years of age. Deaths in the middle-age range of 45 to 64 years experienced death rates three times greater than normal during the event. Infants were also highly-susceptible to the pollution-laden smog and infant mortality doubled during the week of December 5, 1952."
-London Smog Disaster
"The media expressed public outrage at the attitude (largely inertia) of the government during the weeks after the event, and Harold MacMillan, Minister of Housing, finally agreed to appoint a committee to advise on the question. He told his cabinet colleagues that it was very unlikely that anything useful would come of this, but it might assuage the public concern ("The Great Fog"). The questions asked in the House of Commons and the discussions there show how little interest there was in identifying the harmful constituents present in the fog (see Hansard, United Kingdom Parliament).
"We have only recently learned that Britain's economic situation in 1952 was extremely tenuous; for this reason, low-quality, high-sulfur coal was being burned in London to permit the export of the more valuable low-residue, low-sulfur coal. Thus, the economic situation contributed indirectly to the degree of pollution.
"The medical profession did not take a leading role in the quest for cleaner air. When I worked as a clinical assistant at the Brompton Hospital in 1953, we had a printed sheet to give to new asthma patients, which advised that if the patient woke up at night with an attack, he or she should get out of bed, open the bedroom window, and take large breaths of the night air. It did not say that the next thing the patient should do was to call for an ambulance. It was not until 1980 that we knew that asthmatics were especially sensitive to sulfur dioxide."
-David Bates, Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 110, Number 12, December 2002