Dr Peter Baxter

Consultant Physician, Occupational & Environmental Medicine,
Cambridge University and Addenbrooke's NHS Trust Hospital

Department of Public Health and Primary Care
University of Cambridge
Institute of Public Health
Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 2SR, UK

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Research Expertise


Peter Baxter has been involved in the health aspects of many major volcanic eruptions as adviser to governments or the World Health Organization. His first involvement was following the eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980. Between 1992-2001 he was a member of the UK Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards (DEFRA) and between 1992-2000 he was a member of the UK International Decade for International Disaster Reduction (Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering). Lately, (1995-present) he has been an adviser to the UK Department of Health and Chief Medical Officer, England & Wales, on the Montserrat volcanic crisis. He has been a member of a French/English scientific team sent to evaluate the Nyiragongo eruption, Congo and recently evaluated the Rabaul, Papua New Guinea eruption for the World Health Organisation.


Relevant Publications

Baxter, P.J., Searl, A., Cowie, H.A., Jarvis, D. and Horwell, C.J. (2014) ‘Evaluating the respiratory health risks of volcanic ash at the eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat, 1995-2010’, In: Wadge, G., Robertson R., & Voight, B. (Eds) The Eruption of Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat from 2000 to 2010. Memoir of the Geological Society of London, 39(22), 407-425.

Stewart, C., Horwell C.J., Plumlee, G., Cronin, S., Delmelle, P., Baxter, P., Calkins, J., Damby, D.E., Morman, S. & Oppenheimer, C. (2013) ‘Protocol for analysis of volcanic ash samples for assessment of hazards from leachable elements’. Available at: www.ivhhn.org/

Wilson, T., Stewart, C., Bickerton, H., Baxter, P., Outes, V., Villarosa, G., & Rovere, E. (2013) ‘Impacts of the June 2011 Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcanic Complex Eruption on Urban Infrastructure, Agriculture and Public Health’, GNS Science Report 2012/20, 88p.

Damby, D. E., Horwell, C. J., Baxter, P. J., Delmelle, P., Donaldson, K., Dunster, C., Fubini, B., Murphy, F.A., Nattrass, C., Sweeney, S., Tetley, T.D., & Tomatis, M. (2013) ‘The respiratory health hazard of tephra from the 2010 Centennial eruption of Merapi with implications for occupational mining of deposits’, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 261, 376-387.

Horwell, C. J., Baxter, P. J., Hillman, S. E., Calkins, J. A., Damby, D. E., Delmelle, P., Donaldson, K., Dunster, C., Kelly, F.J., Le Bond, J.S., Livi, K.J., Murphy, F., Nattrass, C., Sweeney, S., Tetley, T.D., Thordarson, T., & Tomatis, M. (2013) ‘Physicochemical and toxicological profiling of ash from the 2010 and 2011 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull and Grímsvötn volcanoes, Iceland using a rapid respiratory hazard assessment protocol’, Environmental Research, 127, 63-73.

Le Blond, J.S., Horwell, C.J., Baxter, P.J., Michowicz, S.A.K., Tomatis, M., Fubini, B., Dilmelle, P., Dunster, C., & Patia, H. (2010) ‘Mineralogical analyses and in vitro screening tests for the rapid evaluation of the health hazard of volcanic ash at Rabaul volcano, Papua New Guinea’, Bulletin of Volcanology, 72: 1077-1092.

Barsotti, S., Andronico, D., Neri, A., Del Carlo, P., Baxter, P. J., Aspinall, W. P. & Hincks, T. (2010) ‘Quantitative assessment of volcanic ash hazards for health and infrastructure at Mt. Etna (Italy) by numerical simulation’, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 192(1-2), 85-96.

Horwell, C.J. & Baxter, P.J. (2006) ‘The respiratory health hazards of volcanic ash: a review for volcanic risk mitigation’, Bulletin of Volcanology, 69: 1-24.

Hincks, T. K., Aspinall, W. P., Baxter, P. J., Searl, A., Sparks, R. S. J. & Woo, G. (2006) 'Long term exposure to respirable volcanic ash on Montserrat: a time series simulation', Bulletin of Volcanology,68(3), 266-284.

Forbes, L., Jarvis, D., Potts, J. & Baxter, P. J. (2003) 'Volcanic ash and respiratory symptoms in children on the island of Montserrat, British West Indies', Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 60(3), 207-211.

Searl, A., Baxter, P. J. & Cowie, H. (2002) 'Exposure to volcanic ash on Montserrat, British West Indies', Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 46(Supplement 1), 35-38.

Searl, A., Nicholl, A. & Baxter, P. J. (2002) 'Assessment of the exposure of islanders to ash from the Soufriere Hills volcano, Montserrat, British West Indies', Occupational and Environmental Medicine,59(8), 523-531.

Delmelle, P., Stix, J., Baxter, P. J., Garcia-Alvarez, J. & Barquero, J. (2002) 'Atmospheric dispersion, environmental effects and potential health hazard associated with the low-altitude gas plume of Masaya volcano, Nicaragua'Bulletin of Volcanology, 64(6), 423-434.

Baxter, P. J., & Ancia, A. (2002) ‘Human Health and Vulnerability in the Nyiragongo Volcano Crisis Democratic Republic of Congo 2002Final Report to the World Health Organisation.

Allen, A. G., Oppenheimer, C., Ferm, M., Baxter, P. J., Horrocks, L. A., Galle, B., McGonigle, A. J. S. & Duffell, H. J. (2002) 'Primary sulfate aerosol and associated emissions from Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua'Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres, 107(D23), 8.

Loughlin SC, Baxter PJ, Aspinall WP, et al. (2002). Eyewitness accounts of the 25 June 1997 block and ash flows at Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat, and implications for disaster mitigation. In: Druitt, T.H. and Kokelaar, B.P. (eds.) The eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat 1995 to 1999. Geological Society, London. Memoir 21.

Delmelle, P., Stix, J., Bourque, C. P.-A., Baxter, P. J., Garcia-Alvarez, J. & Barquero, J. (2001) 'Dry deposition and heavy acid loading in the vicinity of Masaya volcano, a major sulfur and chlorine source in Nicaragua'Environmental Science and Technology, 35, 1289-1293.

Mastrolorenzo, G., Petrone, P.P., Pagano, M., Incoronato, A., Baxter, P.J., Canzanella, A., & Fattore, L. (2001) ‘Herculaneum victims of Vesuvius in AD 79’, Nature, 410, 769-770.

Ayres, J., Baxter, P.J., et al. (2001) Expert Panel on Air Quality Standards: airborne particles: what is an appropriate measurement on which to base a standard? London: DEFRA.

Allen, A. G., Baxter, P. J. & Ottley, C. J. (2000) 'Gas and particle emissions from Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat, West Indies: characterization and health hazard assessment'Bulletin of Volcanology, 62(1), 8-19.

Baxter, P. J., Bonadonna, C., Dupree, R., Hards, V. L., Kohn, S. C., Murphy, M. D., Nichols, A., Nicholson, R. A., Norton, G., Searl, A., Sparks, R. S. J. & Vickers, B. P. (1999) 'Cristobalite in volcanic ash of the Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat, British West Indies', Science, 283(5405), 1142-1145.

Baxter, P.J. (1999) “Impacts of Eruptions on Human Health”, In Sigurdsson, H., et al (eds.) Encyclopedia of Volcanoes. San Diego: Academic Press. 1035-1043.

Baxter, P. J., Baubron, J. C. & Countinho, R. (1999) 'Health hazards and disaster potential of ground gas emissions at Furnas volcano, Sao Miguel, Azores'Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research,92(1-2), 95-106.

Baxter, P. J., Woo, G. and Pomonis, A. (1998) Preliminary assessment of volcanic risk on Montserrat. Montserrat: Montserrat Volcano Observatory.

Baxter, P.J., and Seaton, A. (1997) Report on long-term health impacts of volcanic ash: Health risk assessment of exposure to ash from the Soufriere Hills volcano, Montserrat. Department of Health, London, pp. 3.

Baxter, P.J., & Gresham, A. (1997) ‘Deaths and injuries in the eruption of Galeras Volcano, Colombia, 14 January 1993’, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 77(1-4), 325-338.

Baxter, P.J. (1990) ‘Medical effects of volcanic eruptions’, Bulletin of Volcanology, 52, 532-544.

Baxter, P.J., & Kapila, M. (1989) ‘Acute health impact of the gas release at Lake Nyos, Cameroon, 1986’, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 39(2-3), 265-275.

Baxter,P. J., Kapila, M. & Mfonfu, D. (1989) 'Lake Nyos disaster, Cameroon, 1986: the medical effects of large scale emission of carbon dioxide'British Medical Journal, 298, 1437-1441.

Bernstein, R. S., Baxter, P. J., Falk, H., Ing, R., Foster, L. and Frost, F. (1986) 'Immediate public health concerns and actions in volcanic eruptions: lessons from the Mount St. Helens eruptions, May 18-October 18, 1980', American Journal of Public Health, 76(supplement), 25-37.

Baxter, P. J., Bernstein, R. S., & Buist, A. S. (1986) ‘Preventive health measures in volcanic eruptions’, American Journal of Public Health, 76(Suppl), 84-90.

Bernstein, R. S., Baxter, P. J., & Buist, A. S. (1986) ‘Chapter 1: Introduction to the Epidemiological Aspects of Explosive Volcanism’, American Journal of Public Health, 76(Suppl), 3-9.

Baxter, P.J. (1983) ‘Health hazards of volcanic eruptions’, J R Coll Physicians Lond, 17, 180-182.

Baxter, P. J., Ing, R., Falk, H. & Plikaytis, B. (1983) 'Mount St. Helens eruptions: the acute respiratory effects of volcanic ash in a North American community', Archives of Environmental Health, 38, 138-143.

Merchant, J. A., Baxter, P. J., Bernstein, R. S., McCawley, M., Falk, H., Stein, G., Ing, R. & Attfield, M. (1982) 'Health implications of the Mount St. Helens eruption: epidemiological considerations', Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 26, 911-919.  

Baxter, P. J., Bernstein, R. S., Falk, H., & French, J. (1982) ‘Medical aspects of volcanic disasters: an outline of the hazards and emergency response measures’, Disasters, 6(4), 268-276.

Baxter, P. J., Stoiber, R. E. & Williams, S. N. (1982) 'Volcanic Gases and Health - Masaya Volcano, Nicaragua'Lancet, 2(8290), 150-151.

Baxter, P. J., Ing, R., Falk, H., French, J., Stein, G. F., Bernstein, R. S., Merchant, J. A. & Allard, J. (1981) ‘Mount St Helens eruptions, May 18 to June 12, 1980. An overview of the acute health impact’, JAMA, 246, 2585-9.

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Latest News


Download our pamphlets on preparing for ashfall and on the health hazards of ash. They are designed for mass distribution at the onset of new eruptions. They are now avaiable in English, Japanese, French Spanish, Portuguese, Swahili, Indonesian and Icelandic with Italian versions being available shortly. Please see our Pamphlets page for further infomation.





IVHHN has an article under the Guidelines tab which used to be called 'Recommended Face Masks'. This has now been updated to 'Information on face masks' and is an interim page whilst the Health Interventions in Volcanic Eruptions project investigates which types of respiratory protection are effective in protecting the general population from volcanic ash inhalation. Please note that the translations in Spanish, Japanese and Portuguese have not yet been updated.



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