Located in central Asia, Xinjiang is characterized as a diverse environment in China, consisting of vast deserts, dotted oases, and high mountains. Due to the combined effect of climate conditions under such a diverse environment, there are large differences in human activities, living styles, and eating habits in farmland and grazing pastures between Xinjiang and other regions of China. This study aimed to investigate the variations and mechanisms of elemental distribution in the hair of Uyghur communities among different ages and genders and under different land use backgrounds in an oasis region in Xinjiang. Hair samples from 524 residents from four traditional farmland areas and two grazing pasture areas in Bai Cheng County in Xinjiang were collected, and the levels of thirteen elements were analyzed. The results indicated that the average levels of Cu, Mg, Mn, Zn, Ni, Co, Pb, Fe, Ca, Cd, Cr, As, and Se in the hair of Uyghur communities were within the background levels of Chinese and global residents’ hair. Overall, the levels of elements in the hair of women residents were higher than those of men residents. The levels of elements in the human hair of the middle-aged group were higher than those of child and older-aged groups. Elements Cr and Se in the hair of grazing pastures were higher than those of farmland areas. The levels of Cd, Pb, As, and Zn in the hair of farmland areas were higher than those of grazing pasture areas. The levels of Ca, Mg, Cu, and Fe in the hair of Uyghur communities were higher than those of other ethnic groups, while the toxic elements in the hair of residents in Bai Cheng were lower than those in other regions of China. Middle-aged people were exposed to higher levels of toxic elements in their daily activities compared to elderly and child groups. Also, adult groups need much more nutrients for their growth and intellectual development compared to child and elderly groups. The change in land use from grazing pastures to farmland increased the toxic trace element concentration levels in human hair. The significant differences in the overall concentration levels of elements in human hair among the different ethnic groups and regions can be attributed to the differences in lifestyles, cultural customs, dietary habits, and internal and external exposure routes.
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