In Asian deserts environmental and anthropomorphic dust is a significant health risk to rural populations. Natural sources in dry landscapes are exacerbated by human activities that increase the vulnerability to dust and dust-borne disease vectors. Today in Central and Inner Asian drylands, agriculture, mining, and rapid development contribute to dust generation and community exposure. Thorough review of limited dust investigation in the region implies but does not quantify health risks. Anthropogenic sources, such as the drying of the Aral Sea, highlight the shifting dust dynamics across the Central EurAsian steppe. In the Gobi Desert, our case study in Khanbogd, Mongolia addressed large-scale mining’s potential dust risk to the health of the local population. Dust traps showed variable exposure to particulates among herder households and town residents; dust density distribution indicated that sources beyond the mine need to be considered when identifying particulate sources. Research suggests that atmospheric dust from multiple causes may enhance human particulate exposure. Greater awareness of dust in greater Central Asia reflects community concern about related health implications. Future human well-being in the region will require more thorough information on dust emissions in the changing environment.
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